Krannert Art Museum’s New Exhibit Features a Famous Footprint of Christ Drawn with a Single Line | Art


CHAMPAIGN – As she looked closely at French artist Claude Mellan’s 1649 print, “The Veil of Veronique,” while an art student at the University of Kansas in the early 2000s, Maureen Warren was immediately struck by the complexity of a work done from a single line.

This line, which Mellan painstakingly etched into a copper plate before printing it on paper, runs from the middle in a spiral, varying in width, to make a portrait of Jesus Christ. A Latin inscription on the print reads, “Like no other”, which refers to the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary, the cloth known as the “Veil of Veronica” which is said to contain an imprint of the face of the Christ, and the print itself.

“It’s a pretty bold claim to compare yourself to Jesus Christ,” said Warren, now curator of European and American art at the Krannert Art Museum, “but really no one could ever copy that. … A lot of “Artists have tried to recreate that and it’s just new. It’s an amazing technical feat.

Printmaking played a role in inspiring Warren to focus on her own works, including the study of printmaking, towards art history.

Shortly after taking up his current duties at the museum in 2015, art collectors David Chambers and John Crane emailed curators and printmaking enthusiasts offering to buy pieces for art museums that organized exhibitions presenting engravings from the early modern period. 16th to 19th centuries.

Warren immediately knew what she wanted to ask. Chambers and Crane agreed to purchase Mellan’s “Veil of Veronica” for the museum, which Warren says is “one of the most famous and important French prints of all time”.

Mellan’s print features prominently in “Sacred/Supernatural: Religion, Myth, and Magic in European Prints, 1450-1900,” an exhibit on view through May 15 at the Champaign Museum. The 373-year-old print itself is the size of a typical piece of paper, but the exhibit also features a reproduction of just over half the print, which was created by stitching several high-rise photos together. resolution.

“There aren’t many standard paper-sized works of art that you could blast 8 feet tall and still be compelling,” Warren said.

When viewers enter the gallery, Warren hopes they won’t just walk past the artwork. She hopes they’ll stop and take a close look and take note of their intricacies.

“It’s really important to me that visitors don’t stop to identify the subjects of a print and say, ‘Oh, that’s the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child’ or whatever,” a- she said, “but hopefully they will look at how this image is created, what kinds of lines are used, how they are used, whether they are gestural and sketchy or whether they are firm and straight, to reflect to the “how” of the engraving.

The gallery features dozens of pieces, primarily from the museum’s archives, but also works of art and books from the Spurlock Museum, the University of Illinois Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Ricker Library of architecture and art, and several other pieces on loan from Chambers and Crane. . The plays cover the topics of religion and topics like witchcraft and sorcery.

Warren hopes visitors will see something that will change their mindset about printmaking and other arts of the time, just as her perspective changed when she first set eyes on Mellan’s “Veronica’s Veil”.

“I think people sometimes have preconceptions about art from this period, especially religious art, as being stuffy, boring, or uninteresting,” Warren said. “So showing something really dynamic and unexpected can change their perception for the better.”


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