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Ken
11th September 2008, 10:54 PM
Why does Jesus look so amazingly anglo-european-norwegian in the Divine Mercy Image?

I don't have any particular need to know what Jesus looked (or looks) like, but my Christian upbringing has taken me through some groups of people who are highly prone to make fun of the way Jesus has been portrayed through historical and popular art.

For example:
http://mormonstalk.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/jesus_ws.jpg

An image which seems to me less silly.... but He still doesn't look Jewish.
http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/pics/Jesus_Son_of_god_Holy_Spirit.JPG

Now, I don't exactly know what Jew's looked like 2000 years ago, and I don't trust the BBC at all when it comes to religion reporting, but....
http://www.israelshamir.net/Images/Jesus_Jew.jpg

I, on the other hand, am inclined to respect the iconography of Catholic history in it's portrayal of Christ, especially the Christus Pantocrator, which I've heard became the standard representation of Christ after the discovery of the Odessa Cloth, presumably because it was based on the cloth and the pre-1500-years-mode-fading image was an overwhelming experience for those who saw it:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/73/Jesus_Sinai_Icon.jpg/200px-Jesus_Sinai_Icon.jpg
http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&q=%22christus+pantocrator%22&btnG=Search+Images
http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/pantocrator.htm

BTW, one website claims the Divine Mercy Image corresponds exactly to the image on the Shroud of Turin, now the evidence for that equivalence with the Christus Pantocrator looks decent, but I don't see how both the Christus Pantocrator and the Divine Mercy Image can be equivalent with the Divine Mercy Image.

Or, other iconography of Christ:
http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&q=jesus+icon&btnG=Search+Images

Now, compare all of those images, if you've taken the time to look, to the original Divine Mercy Image, and some of the knock-offs:

http://www.paulharrigan.com/images/wyd_images/divine_mercy1.jpg

http://divinemercypictures.com/index.htm

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=divine+mercy+image&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&resnum=1&ct=title

Now, to my real concern.
I have a friend who is a truly amazing artist, his work is modeled after the great classical masters, and to an untrained eye such as myself, his skill is rivaling theirs. Because of my issues with the european appearance of Jesus in the original Divine Mercy Image, and Jesus' own words indicating that the picture needn't be an exact copy:

“Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace.”

... I've been considering commissioning my friend to paint a divine mercy image for me, with the same essential characteristics as all the ones I've already presented, but with the physical appearance of Christ more in line with the iconography I've presented, and in the direction of a historical understanding of what He would have looked like. I still haven't thought out all the details, or discussed it with the artist, but I was also thinking that the blood and water would be much closer to blood and water, and that the pierced heart would be exposed somehow, similar to the Sacred Heart of Jesus images, and probably that he would be wearing a robe of some sort which doesn't look like a frilly dress.

I do intend this to be intentionally reverential, and fully an object worthy of veneration. The artist is Christian, not Catholic, but is a close friend, and I will stress to him the seriousness of this for me, and ensure that he takes the assignment seriously in terms of understanding the significance of the image in the writings of St. Faustina, and the way others have portrayed it. I am not looking for a modern-art re-portrayal of Jesus's apparition, I am looking for an artistic portrayal as I imagine the great masters of the Renaissance would have portrayed Him. I've been thinking about some of the descriptions of Christ from the Transfiguration, and in Revelation, and how to properly portray the overwhelming glory of His resurrected body, I don't have firm ideas yet, but that is another aspect of the direction I want to take the commission in.

So, I guess what I wanted to know is from the perspective of some of the most conservative people I know, does this seem "kosher"? I can be reverential towards my Christus Pantocrator icon, I can't be so towards the Divine Mercy Image that I have, but I think I could be towards the one I'm imagining.

One concept I've wrestled with in terms of this question is the idea of the cultural incarnational appearance of Christ. This basically says Christ appears to people in physical appearances they can relate to, thus explaining the Euro-centric representation even of apparitions, while also not negating the merits of portraying Him in something closer to how we believe His physical body would have appeared when he walked with the disciples. Same seems true of Mary, she is usually portrayed as super-pale, but when she appeared in Guadalupe she looked as a indignant Mexican/Aztec/Native American. So, normally I'm opposed to "fancy" portrayals of Christ which differ from his real appearance, because the world needs to be reminded that Christ is a historical fact, not merely a fictional idea meant to guide us to a morality. This is a point I argued with another artist who portrayed Christ as an elf. However, what I'm doing is the inverse of this, it's attempting to portray Christ as best I can understand He would have appeared, rather than portraying him as something more culturally appropriate.

Thoughts?



Lastly, this is a cool picture:
http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d50/star_drop/Jesus.jpg

Brother
11th September 2008, 11:50 PM
I do believe Jesus looked similar to the Divine Mercy Image (and perhaps, even better as St. Faustina suggested). This was Jesus will for us to have an Image of Him in our homes for veneration.

Jesus is the Man at perfection for He is sinless, so He had no physical deformities at all, nor any of His bodily cells corrupted. His and our Mother, the Virgin Mary, was (and is) indeed a beautiful Lady too (physically as well). She never got sick either, nor any of her bodily cells corrupted; in fact, she looked young all her life on this earth.

I think Jesus complexion could have been a little darker due to the fact to sun expousure during His Ministry on Earth. Regarding His beard, it could have been shorter at the start of His Ministry and a little larger at the time of His Passion (Jesus' Face was greatly deformed by human hands during His Passion btw).

Brother
11th September 2008, 11:59 PM
For more descriptions of Jesus' physical appearance, check out this thread:

http://catholicplanet.net/forum/showthread.php?t=2088

Ron Conte
12th September 2008, 02:11 AM
Certainly Jesus looked Jewish, and I think that this is clear from the Shroud of Turin. Also, ancient images of Christ usually have a bifurcated beard.

I think it is good to represent Christ sometimes as looking like the peoples of one culture or another, black or asians or other. Resurrected and glorified bodies can take on varying appearances at will.

Rob
12th September 2008, 09:29 AM
I think it is good to represent Christ sometimes as looking like the peoples of one culture or another, black or asians or other. Resurrected and glorified bodies can take on varying appearances at will.

True, apparently Mary at Medjugorje appears to have blue eyes according to the seers, while in other apparitions she doesn't. Glorified bodies do really take different appearances, for instance blessed Emmerich describes a more light skinned Jesus with lighter hair colour while He walked on earth. In ancient roman times the first depictions of Jesus appeared without beard, since the romans associated Jesus with Apollo.

Mary's Child
12th September 2008, 08:02 PM
Dear Ken,

St. Faustina was told by Jesus that the accuracy of the painting was not as important as the painting itself. Now, I wonder if any of you has ever noticed something extremely interesting about the Vilnius painting. This was the original painting which was displayed in Vilnius during St. Faustina's life. Take a good look at the sleeve of Jesus (on the arm which is raised in blessing). Inside the sleeve is a perfect depiction of the Blessed Mother with Bernadette kneeling. To the left of that image, on the outside of the same sleeve is a wonderful depiction of the Pieta, that is of Our Lady holding her dead son, Jesus. Other images of JPII and St. Faustina herself have been pointed out to me, but I don't seem to see them as clearly.

Let me know if you can see these images and what you think their significance is.

Mary's Child

CP33mercynow
13th September 2008, 05:16 AM
There are two aspects of the 'Skemp' rendering of the Divine Mercy image that i find can be appealing to our human weakness without overmelming us or undermining Christ Divine Majesty. The first, somewhat of a "humble attitude" of Christ in this painting. The second, that though He humbled Himself to be with us weak human beings, He is still God nonetheless. How is that portrayed? He is almost in through the door, but not 100%. A door the Apostles kept shut in fear. If your artist friend is indeed Christian, may i humbly suggest you and him do a bit of fasting and may be a Divine Mercy novena prior to starting the project?