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Image of cut paper work and shadow effect

Salvator Mundi

  • This ingenious cutting exhibits by its shadow on the wall
  • an excellent resemblance of our Saviour.
  • Published by the inventor. May 1st 1817
  • Sold by S. Poole, 126, Pall Mall [London]
  • Price 6d
  • 108 x 146mm (4¼ x 5¾in)
Close up of printed text on cut paper work

The hand-cut paper work of Christ's head hangs by a thread while the prevailing light from a window, oil lamp or candle creates a ghostlike image, as if from the distant past, onto the wall.

Although the Gospels and early Christian texts provide no information about Christ's appearance this cut out conforms, in a simple fashion, to the image of Christ that we recognize today.

Shadow pictures have a long history. Pliny the Elder recounted a Greek myth; the story of the Corinthian maid Dibutade who outlined her departing lover's shadow on the wall to preserve his image whilst he was away, a story often used to illustrate the origins of painting.



This regular feature shows special items from members’ own collections. Submissions by email should include a scan of the item.