A new portrait of Christ is based on the Shroud of Turin and several years of research.

Curtis Hooper, a 39-year-old artist from London, England, could draw before he could talk. Reared in the Church of England, he grew up intrigued with drawings and paintings of the face of Jesus.

To Hooper, the icons revealed a pathetic Christ characterized by dourness and resignation. It was a likeness that did not square with his understanding of the Jesus who is portrayed in the Bible. “I always wanted to know what he really looked like,” the artist says.

After a strict religious education, Hooper practiced portrait art and became a cinematographer. One day he came across a picture of the Shroud of Turin, thought by some to be the cloth in which Christ was buried.

He learned that the shroud served as a point of reference for artists in past centuries who had rendered their own ideas of Christ’s likeness. That discovery led to seven years of painstaking research. As a result, Hooper believes he has created the most accurate rendering ever of what Jesus looked like.

The artist began by enhancing photographs of the shroud in a darkroom. He scrutinized minute details, trying to understand what had formed the image. He consulted with members of a team that researched the shroud. He then assembled his own team of experts to obtain scientific insight into the swollen, torn image on the cloth.

When he felt he had obtained enough information, he sculpted a life-sized clay model of the skull and face. He then showed the sculpture to each expert. “I encountered difficulty because plastic surgeons and pathologists don’t have much experience with tissue from bodies that have undergone [several days of] decay,” Hooper says. “They’re only good with freshly ...

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