Anonynous (Austrian)


SN 304, oil on panel, c 1490

From "The Pages"

The day of the crucifixion, St Veronica pitied Christ on His way to Calvary and wiped the blood from his face with her veil. Miraculously the imprint of his face and the crown of thorns was transferred to the cloth, known a the vernicle. The relic has been preserved at St Peter’s in Rome since the 8th c. Veronica’s attribute is the vernicle; she is the patroness of linen drapers and washerwomen.

This painting is characteristic of Austrian art. Although details indicate a date in the late 1400s, in many respects it is late Gothic.

Saints Peter and James the Pilgrim are adapted from Flemish examples, but the short figures and rounded faces of the family group are only a modest updating of types that had been prevalent in Austria since the first quarter of the century.

Most astonishing is the almond-shaped face of Christ. Clearly a descendant of Byzantine icons, it has hardly changed since 1400. The angels in the balcony, behind the carved railing, play musical instruments to glorify God.

The family who commissioned the painting kneel beside St James. [He’s the one with the shell and staff, next to the men of the family. St Peter appears on the right, next to the female contingent. The family appears in smaller scale because they are less important than the others there. In accordance with the rules of heraldry, the men are on the right side and the women on the left, as shown in their shields. (They appear opposite as we view the painting.)

Museum Label:
A Family Group Adoring the Veil of Veronica
c. 1490

Artist: Unknown

Oil on panel, 31 1/2 x 27 in. (80 x 68.6 cm)

This panel painting depicts a family, flanked by their patron saints, Peter and Jacob, in a church interior, venerating the Veil of Veronica, a cloth considered to show the first true likeness of Christ. In the background an altarpiece with the Passion cycle is visible, and the veil covers what is most likely a scene representing the Raising of the Cross. The painting may have been commissioned to commemorate the death of the matriarch of the family, of which the white cross in her hand is an indication.

Bequest of John Ringling, 1936, SN304