The Shroud of Turin, with its faint bloodstained imprint of a human corpse, has captivated the world for centuries as one of Christianity’s most revered artifacts. In Andrew R. Casper’s book, “An Artful Relic: The Shroud of Turin in Baroque Italy,” he delves into the historical and cultural significance of this mysterious cloth.
Casper takes us back to the late 1500s, a period when the Shroud of Turin gained widespread devotion and veneration. During this time, the cloth was believed to be an artful relic, a masterpiece attributed to God’s artistry. The Shroud was considered a divine painting that not only bore traces of Christ’s body but also embodied the perfect marriage of material authenticity and divine artifice.
The Shroud of Turin holds immense historical significance, not only for its religious connotations but also for its impact on art history. Casper’s book uncovers previously unknown details about the Shroud’s emergence as a sacred artifact, providing art historians and historians of religion with valuable insights. The Shroud’s influence on religious art, particularly during the Baroque period, showcases its enduring legacy.
Andrew R. Casper’s “An Artful Relic: The Shroud of Turin in Baroque Italy” offers a fresh perspective on the Shroud’s historical and cultural significance. By exploring its emergence as a religious artifact and its connections to the artistic cultures of the time, Casper challenges prevailing notions of artifice and authenticity.
An Artful Relic: The Shroud of Turin in Baroque Italy
In 1578, a fourteen-foot linen sheet bearing the faint bloodstained imprint of a human corpse was presented to tens of thousands of worshippers in Turin, Italy, as one of the original shrouds used to prepare Jesus Christ’s body for entombment. From that year into the next century, the Shroud of Turin emerged as Christianity’s preeminent religious artifact. In an unprecedented new look, Andrew R. Casper sheds new light on one of the world’s most famous and controversial religious objects.
Since the early twentieth century, scores of scientists and forensic investigators have attributed the Shroud’s mysterious images to painterly, natural, or even supernatural forces. Casper, however, shows that this modern opposition of artifice and authenticity does not align with the cloth’s historical conception as an object of religious devotion. Examining the period of the Shroud’s most enthusiastic following, from the late 1500s through the 1600s, he reveals how it came to be considered an artful relic—a divine painting attributed to God’s artistry that contains traces of Christ’s body. Through probing analyses of materials created to perpetuate the Shroud’s cult following—including devotional, historical, and theological treatises as well as printed and painted reproductions—Casper uncovers historicized connections to late Renaissance and Baroque artistic cultures that frame an understanding of the Shroud’s bloodied corporeal impressions as an alloy of material authenticity and divine artifice.
This groundbreaking book introduces rich, new material about the Shroud’s emergence as a sacred artifact. It will appeal to art historians specializing in religious and material studies, historians of religion, and to general readers interested in the Shroud of Turin.
About the Author
Andrew R. Casper
is an Associate Professor of Art History at Miami University. He is the author of Art and the Religious Image in El Greco’s Italy, also published by Penn State University Press.
You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewRCasper