Matthew R. Perry

Never Heard of Warner Sallman? Maybe, But You Know His Work!

In Church Life, Theology on October 24, 2006 at 3:12 pm


Christianity Today has a very interesting article about Warner Sallman’s “The Head of Christ,” a portrait that hangs in many homes across the world. I personally remember this portrait hanging in my grandmother’s bedroom growing up and found myself quite attracted to it. For many, this is the definitive image of Christ.

What think you? Do you believe this looks even close to what Christ looked like while on earth? Does this match the Biblical description? And are you like me in that even having a picture like this violates the Second Commandment?

What say you?

  1. I don’t take a picture like this as a violation of the 2nd commandment as long as everyone remembers that it’s just artistic expression. I remember in college a girl who would talk to the picture in the prayer room at the BSU. That was crossing the line in my mind.

    (As far as I know, the picture never spoke back.)

  2. Hi Matt,

    My two cents…

    I believe the Second Commandment, in context, was referring to the making of an image with the intent of bowing down in worship to it. If the commandment just applies to the making of an image of any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth (without the context of idolatry), then Moses himself would be guilty because he had images of cattle made(that held up the laver, or sea, I think) and angelic beings (on the ark) formed for use in the tabernacle, as did Solomon.

    So, I don’t know if it violates the Second Commandment, per se, but I still don’t see the use or benefit of carrying around an image like this one, or having it hung on the wall. Now, if one starts talking to the picture, then we definitely have a problem, I think.


  3. I like the minimalist biblical drawings of Annie Vallotton in the Good News Bible. The allow for meditative response, without being definitive in their imagery.

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