The Portrait of Christ: Its Origin and Evolution

S.G.F. Brandon traces development from the fourth century in Christian art to Holman Hunt and Graham Sutherland.

Most persons carry in their minds an impression of the physical appearance of Jesus Christ. They have acquired it insensibly from representations of him seen in books, or paintings and statues in churches and art galleries. Such representations, although showing much diversity in conception and feeling, agree on certain basic features, so that a commonly recognizable portrait has been established. The cast of countenance is invariably Caucasian, not Semitic, although the historical Jesus was Jewish by race. The face is bearded, and has large impressive eyes; the hair is usually long and gently undulating. If the whole body is depicted, it is clad in a long white garment, reaching to the feet.

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