One of the joys of writing a blog like this is that people from all over the world are constantly getting in touch because of something they have seen here or to share things they think I would like to see. Which is why it was a complete delight the other day to hear from John and Nick, readers and occasional customers.
John has been collecting French Scouting calendars and found, in a 1950 calendar, the above reproduction of a very beautiful painting of the crucifixion. A little research led him to the artist George Desvallières (1861–1950) who, it will be noticed died in the year of this calendar. Desvallières is well known in France and beyond as a painter of primarily religious subjects. In 1919 Desvallières founded a studio to promote religious art and this painting is in the style of his work from this time.
There is no doubt it is a beautiful depiction of Christ on the Cross but an added level of meaning was given to it when John and Nick discovered that Desvallières lost his son Daniel at the beginning of The Great War at the age of 17 and they tracked down this small photo of Desvallières with his son (below). I agree with John and Nick that it's not fanciful to see a resemblance between Daniel and this youthful Christ: a long very straight nose and perhaps larger than expected ears on the Christ seem to me features they share.
Sadly the painting is reproduced in monochrome and it seems that the original is not to be found on the Internet yet. Granted that we can't at the moment know the artists original colour choices Nick, who is an illustrator, has I think made a very fine job of enhancing the image and that is the purple and gold version below. (I couldn't resist also including the St Sebastian that John and Nick found and sent me too!)
Many thanks to John and to Nick for sharing first with me, and then with us all, this rather poignant image.