Sunday, January 21, 2007

Art Blogging: Warner Sallman

Warner Sallman (1892-1968) was an American painter of Christian subject matter, particularly scenes depicting Jesus Christ. He spent his life in Chicago, attending the Art Institute of Chicago. He was a devout Christian and a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Sallman became a commercial success in the 1930s and thereafter, creating a number of Christ scenes for distribution by Christian publishers.
Head of Christ. This famous Protestant icon began as a charcoal sketch composed in 1924 for the official magazine of Sallman's denomination. A publishing firm affiliated with the Church of God (Anderson) saw potential in his work, and began mass-marketing them. He created several versions over the years, the last and most popular of which was this one created in 1941.







Christ at Heart's Door. The lightly concealed heart of Jesus literally glows in reflection of a Biblical passage. It is a distinctively Protestant image, as art historian David Morgan wrote "For American Protestants whose spirituality is premised on the acceptance of a call and “born again” experience and its subsequent testimonial, this image articulates a central theological principle and has served to commemorate such experiences. "



Christ in the Garden. Here, Warner makes a theological statement about the divine persons present within the Garden. Light radiates from two sources: Jesus the Son and the Father above.

17 comments:

Keith Taylor said...

John,

Thank you so much for putting this up. Both of these top two portraits of Christ hung in my UMC as a child until I was an adult. They will always have a special place in my heart since when I see them, I naturally think of my church when I was a child. I had no idea who painted them, much less it was the same painter. Of course, till I started reading your blog, I never really cared. :-)

Is there anything one can't learn by reading "Locust and Honey"?

Anonymous said...

Incredible coincidence! We have a huge reproduction of "Head of Christ" hanging in my Sunday School (slash conference) room. Sunday afternoon we attended a district training session at Tullahoma (TN) First UMC where my eight-year-old son tagged along with me to my Lay Leader/ Lay Speaking session. While we were waiting for the class to begin, my son tugged on my shirtsleeve and pointed to a small reproduction of the same Sallman painting and said, "Hey, Dad, that's the same picture of Jesus that's in your Sunday School room."

Anonymous said...

Incredible coincidence! We have a huge reproduction of "Head of Christ" hanging in my Sunday School (slash conference) room. Sunday afternoon we attended a district training session at Tullahoma (TN) First UMC where my eight-year-old son tagged along with me to my Lay Leader/ Lay Speaking session. While we were waiting for the class to begin, my son tugged on my shirtsleeve and pointed to a small reproduction of the same Sallman painting and said, "Hey, Dad, that's the same picture of Jesus that's in your Sunday School room."

John said...

There are a couple of them in my church, too.

Is there anything one can't learn by reading "Locust and Honey"?

Want tomorrow's lotto numbers?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, but gambling is a menace to society! Sorry about the double comment thing. Sorry about the double comment thing.

John said...

It's okay.

John said...

It's okay.

gavin richardson said...

i think this is one of the first artist profiles in awhile that i actually recognize. thanks j as with many it's nice to know a little history behind these pieces of work that i've seen in so many churches & homes over the years

Anonymous said...

I've grown tired of his "Head of Christ", but really like his other work.

the reverend mommy said...

OK,
I love Sallman's work. I actually own several pieces. It's a sort of warm and fuzzy Jesus, but really beautiful pieces.

Dan Trabue said...

Actually, given the ubiquity of this picture (at least in the Baptist world in which I was raised), I had always assumed it was painted by some committee and published by the Sunday School Board...

Apparently for at least a generation or two of us, THIS was the face of Jesus.

John said...

Anderson University, affiliated with the Church of God (Anderson), owns most of Sallman's corpus.

We have COG students here at Asbury, and my church works closely with a local COG. It's a wonderful, holiness-focused denomination.

the reverend mommy said...

I request Art Blogging on my personal favorite genre -- Outsider Art, as in Rev. Howard Finster. He was from around here and he was a hoot. I have a Last Supper and a angel from early on.

kris said...

I have a reproduction of The Head of Christ in charcoal from 1941 framed. On the back of the frame there is a message from a couple thanking someone for the beautiful music at the wedding. It was dated by them 1942. On the right bottom of the picture it is dated 1941 and says copywright 1941 Covenant book Concern. I am looking for more information about this print. I have seen the color prints but never this copy.

barbarahord said...

I brought a reproduction of Christ At Heart's Door by Warner Sallman. I brought this painting in a frame for $8.00 at an estate Aution. It is in a frame 23" by 18" and it is sighed Warner Sallman 1942. At the botton of the painted is signed copyright 1942 by Kriebel & Bates Litho in U.S.A. I was born in 1942. Was this painted really copright in 1942 and does it means it is as old as I am? I paid $8.What is this painted worth today? I would like to know.I am curious. You can email me at barbarahord@aol.com.
Thank you

Anonymous said...

My wife recently purchaed a couple of original pastel pictures of little girls praying. They are both signed Sallman Rough Sketch. They are on what I call trash paper, a thin tissue and the signature and "rough skecth" both appear to be black ink. They each are a front view of the child kneeling at bedtiem with a cat or dog next to them on their right (picture left)have a mirror hanging over their shoulder. Any idea what finished picture they might be a sketch for? They are, I believe, just bigger than 8 1/2" by 11" and the paper is a n inch or so bigger than the image and a double thickness at the top?

Thanks, allen

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