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Telephone: 0131 226 6932 or 0845 388 5879
46 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3NH, Scotland (TSOH)

Biography and current catalogue for

English (16th Century) 

Portrait of Christ, in profile facing left.

Oil on prepared oak panel with gilding, with some impact damage to and around the Head of Christ (possibly intentional). 27.5 x 26 cms (10¾ x 10¼ ins) with extensive capital lettered script below (sic):

“THIS PRESENT FIGURE IS THE SIMILITUDE OF OUR LORDE IHV OUR SAVIOUR IMPRINTED IN AMIRALD (emerald) BY THE PREDECESSORS OF THE GRETE TURKE AND SENT TO POPE INNOSENT THE Vlll AT THE COST OF THE GREAT TURKE FOR A TOKEN FOR THIS CAUSE TO REDEME HIS BROTHER THAT WAS TAKEN PRISONER”

note: the abbreviation “IHV”is a religious shorthand for the Greek derivative “iesus” – Jesus OR alternatively“in hoc [signum] vincis” meaning in this sign thou shalt overcome.

Nothing is known of the original artist, believed to have been working in the reign of King Henry Vll (r. 1485-1509). This early copy is similar to another image also on oak panel, in the collection of Michael Hall, a New York collector, although there are slight differences in the wording of the texts. A similar copy was sold at Lyon & Turnbull's Edinburgh Sale No. 329, Lot 9 on 28th September 2011 (£900).

This depiction of Jesus in profile is derived from an image engraved on the Emerald Vernicle in the Collection of the Vatican. Like St Veronica’s Veil and the Mandylion of Edessa, the Emerald Vernicle, though not claimed as miraculous, was accepted as a portrait of Christ.

Around 1429, Sultan Bajazet ll of Constantinople, The Great Turk, gave the emerald, carved with the profile of Jesus, to Pope Innocent Vlll. Bajazet proffered the emerald to ensure that his brother would remain in Papal custody, thus securing his own unhindered accession to the throne.
The inscription below the portrait relates this story, although the painter has changed the intention behind the gift.
For further details, see the paper "The Emerald Vernicle ot the Vatican" by the Rev C.W. King MA in the Archaeological Journal, Vol 27, 1870.