Religious images made with gilded, polychrome, and metallised leather, or with relief, started to proliferate in the 16th century. These images were commonplace in many homes and churches as objects of popular devotion. They insistently repeated the same subjects around the crucifixion, the Mother of God and saints like St Veronica and the Holy Face of Jesus. The inexpressive figure of the Holy Face represents the impression of Jesus’s face on a shroud. On Jesus’s way to Calvary, Veronica wiped the sweat from Christ’s face with her veil and his face was imprinted on it.
The cordwainer himself usually painted the pictures as another step in the whole process. However, in works of greater artistic quality a painter might also have been involved.