Warner Sallman (1892-1968) a Chicago-based commercial artist and illustrator, refocused his career on Christian narrative paintings after 1920. The Warner Sallman Collection is comprised of over 150 works including oil paintings and works on paper from the 1930s-the 1960s. The images featured in the gallery include his iconic image, The Head of Christ, which has been reproduced over 500 million times. This painting along with his other well-known works on display gave the protestant faith a tangible image of Jesus and made Sallman one of the most well-known artists of the century.
The Scheierman Gallery was built in 2012 through the generous donation of Mabel Scheierman and Kenneth Scheierman, dedicated members of the Church of God and generous supporters of Anderson University. For many years, a copy of Sallman’s Head of Christ hung in the Scheierman home, giving the family comfort and joy as they shared their lives together. It is their desire that those who come to Anderson University can enjoy Sallman’s original pieces in person.
About Warner Sallman
Warner Sallman was born on April 30, 1892, in Chicago. He became interested in art at an early age and was especially impacted by the religious art of Gustave Dore. Following graduation from high school, he apprenticed in local studios while attending the Chicago Art Institute. After a brief attempt to establish himself in New York, Sallman returned to Chicago and began his career as a commercial artist.
Through the encouragement of a business associate, Sallman enrolled at a Bible school.
After enrolling at a Bible college, Sallman turned his understanding of his audience as a commercial artist, toward religious imagery. In 1924, Sallman produced a sketch for a magazine cover that portrayed a strong yet serene image of Jesus. This sketch was the basis of what would become Sallman’s most recognizable painting, the Head of Christ, which has been reproduced an estimated 500 million times.
Sallman’s consideration for his audience (1940’s American protestants), the instability of WWII, and the effective marketing from his publishers, Kriebel and Bates, all created the perfect climate for Sallman’s work to become popular devotional images.
Throughout his career, Sallman produced a wide range of religious imagery, including Christ at Heart’s Door, Christ Our Pilot, and Christ in Gethsemane. He once said of his work, “I give God the glory for whatever has been accomplished by my efforts to bring joy and happiness to people throughout the world.” Sallman died in 1968 leaving a legacy of imagery that has exerted an enormous influence on Christian imagination.
While his art spans the United States, the majority of his original work can be found only in the Scheierman Gallery located in the York Performance Hall at Anderson University, in Anderson, IN.
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Visit the Collection
The Scheierman Gallery is located in the York Performance Hall and Galleries on the campus of Anderson University, in Anderson, Indiana.
Tours for the Warner Sallman Collection this summer is by appointment only. Admission is free and open to the public.