Claude Melan and Jesus Christ

Claude Mellan’s tour de force is one of the great achievements of printmaking. The entire print consists of a single engraved line. To begin, Mellan placed the point of his burin at the center of Christ’s nose and spiraled outward, swelling and tapering the line as needed to create this celebrated curiosity. His seemingly miraculous feat mirrors the very image it represents-the imprint of Christ’s face on Saint Veronica’s cloth, or sudarium. The inscription, which reads, “It is formed by one and no other,” alludes both to the power of the divine and to the virtuosity of Mellan’s masterful hand.

This is  1649 engraving by Claude Mellan, The Sudarium of Saint Veronica. Christ’s face is rendered as a single spiral line of varying width.

In 2007 Swedish artist-composer Leif Elggren managed to record the sound of “playing” the engraving like an LP. Explains the liner notes of the Sudarium of St. Veronica CD:

The basic sound source for this CD is the copper engraving ‘The Sudarium of St Veronica’, cut by the French artist Claude Mellan (1598-1688) in Paris 1649. A portrait of Christ engraved through a continuous spiral line that starts at the tip of his nose. An old heliogravure (a 19th Century reproduction of one of the original prints) was used to make a photo etching in copper to get a replica as close as possible to the original plate. This plate was played back with a specially constructed record player and recorded at Firework Edition, Stockholm, July 17, 2007.”

Apparently there is a message in this engraving that is at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

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