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Gum tempera, ink, and gold on paper
Page: 26.2 x 15.6 cm (10 5/16 x 6 1/8 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 2005.145.143.a
Artist’s pigments are arranged in shells next to the brass cup for water.
Jesus sits under a golden lamp with a cloth in his hand, while the artist emissary from Abgar, king of Edessa in present-day southeastern Turkey, struggles to paint a portrait of Jesus that Abgar believed would cure him of a disease. The similarity between the names Abgar and Akbar suggests that Father Jerome included this noncanonical story in his biography of Jesus to resonate with and inspire the Mughal emperor. The miraculous cloth described in this story, the Image of Edessa, also known as the Mandylion, was venerated by Christians for centuries as a relic of Christ. The original cloth was lost from Sainte-Chapelle in Paris during the French Revolution, but two copies remain: one in a church in Genoa, and the other in the Vatican.
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