Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Head of Christ

The Head of Christ (1940), painted by Warner Sallman was reproduced 500 million times, appearing in Church Bulletins, posters, T-Shirts, in wallet-sized copies distributed to servicemen during World War II. Sallman also painted “Christ our pilot” and “Christ at heart’s door” The Head of Christ originated as a charcoal sketch entitled The Son of Man done in 1924 and sold to be the cover of the Covenant Companion, the denominational magazine for the Evangelical Covenant Church. Sallman did several variations of the painting over the years, and the first oil version was done in 1935. 
In 1940 he was asked to reproduce that painting by the students of North Park Theological Seminary. This reproduction was seen by representatives of the Gospel Trumpet Company, who created a new company called Kriebel and Bates to market Sallman's work. For the next thirty years Kriebel and Bates marketed over 100 Warner Sallman works. When Kriebel and Bates dissolved, the copyrights to these works were acquired by Warner Press. The Baptist Bookstore initially popularized the painting, distributing various sized lithographic images for sale throughout the southern United States. The Salvation Army and the YMCA, as members of the USO, handed out pocket-sized versions of the painting to American servicemen heading overseas during World War II. After the war, groups in Oklahoma and Indiana conducted campaigns to distribute the image into private and public spaces.

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