The legend of Saint Veronica and the sudarium as we know it today emerged in the 13th century, when Veronica's encounter with Christ carrying the Cross (see lot 75) began to feature in depictions of the Passion. As Christ staggered past, Veronica mopped His brow with her veil, whereupon an image of His face appeared on the cloth, which is, so the legend has it, the one kept at St. Peter's in Rome. It is considered to be the true image, the 'vera icon', of Christ.
While most depictions of the sudarium show it either alone or being presented by Veronica, Dürer's engraving of two lamenting angels carrying it to heaven combines various motifs in one image: the 'vera icon', the Presentation of Christ, the Lamentation, the Man of Sorrows and the Ascension. This combination of several aspects of Christian iconography in a single image made this engraving particularly suitable for private devotion.
Perhaps, by having Veronica's cloth raised to heaven, he also underlined the importance of what could be considered the first print in the history of Christian art: an impression of the face of Christ.