The silver frame of the Acheiropoieton of Vilnius: a décor or a commentary? (Summary)

Karolina Bukovskytė (PDF)

The painting of Christ the Saviour, also known as the Vilnius Acheiropoieton, once belonged to the Church of the Ascension of the Lord in Vilnius and today is stored in the Church Heritage Museum of the Vilnius Diocese. The image was most likely painted in the second half of the 17th century in Rome and received its ornate silver frame in early 18th-century Vilnius.
The painting in the frame is extraordinary because of the combination of its three semantic elements: the painted face, the inscription composed beneath it, and the wide silver frame of rich iconography. In the context of the Lithuanian artistic heritage, the piece is unique because it blends together two Christian traditions. The artefact is also particular to post-Tridentine art, when the use of images for religious purposes has been consolidated, as the Holy Face stands at the top of the hierarchy of sacred images.
Therefore, the paper provides an overview of the silver frame and examines the hypothesis that the exceptionally complex frame not only functioned as a visual decoration of the image but also served as a reliquary for the relic of the Holy Face and was a commentary rather than a décor of the painting not made by human hands.
Keywords: Face of Christ, Acheiropoieton, frame, decor