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Venne, Jan van der
Head of Jesus Head of Jesus
around 1630-1640 around 1630-1640

This small panel belongs to the culture and society of the Southern Netherlands, which remained Roman Catholic in the wake of the Reformation in these lands. Jan van de Venne has painted Jesus in a strict frontal view, showing the head only, a format that evokes the legend of St. Veronika obtaining the first true image of the Saviour by pressing a cloth to his face as he carried the cross. The sweat, blood and dirt that covered his face from the ordeal of the Passion left an image behind on this cloth, which became known as the “true image” or “Vera Ikon” (reflecting Veronika’s name), and was understood to be the basis for all subsequent images of him, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, and in the Western Latin tradition as well. Such images were rejected by the Protestant reformers in the Northern Netherlands, as partaking of idolatry. In the Catholic South they were commonly installed in various locations in the interiors of Churches and homes, playing a vital role in the exercise of devotion, and such was the function of Van de Venne’s panel. It reflects the Catholic Church’s assertion of the legitimacy and value of such images in refutation of Protestant criticism and suspicion, in the Counter Reformation (or Catholic Reformation).

 
Venne, Jan van der
Mechelen, Belgium ?–Brussels, Belgium before 1651 Mechelen, Belgium ?–Brussels, Belgium before 1651
Head of Jesus Head of Jesus
around 1630-1640 around 1630-1640
Oil on oak panel Oil on oak panel
24.3 x 18.4 cm
Gift of Bernard Burkom in honour of Dr. Alfred Bader's 90th Birthday, 2014 Gift of Bernard Burkom in honour of Dr. Alfred Bader's 90th Birthday, 2014
57-020

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