About Jesus' Face in the Vallotton Illustrations
Vallotton's Bible illustrations were famously published throughout the pages of the Good News Bible. Their dramatic postures and lack of minute detail made them perfect for the page sizes and modern tone of that Bible. But her reason for not including details of Jesus' face goes deeper than that.
Don Griggs, a friend of Annie Vallotton and patron, shared this explanation with us:
Annie wrote us saying, “By using few lines the readers fill in the outlines with their own imagination and freedom. I want the ones viewing the drawing to see Jesus in their own way, using their creativity to imagine how Jesus would look.
John Fea, author of a history of the American Bible Society—the folks who published Vallotton's work in the Good News Bible—wrote this explanation:
"The American Bible Society believes these drawings transcended nationality, language, and race. By omitting facial details, skin color, and other cultural indicators on her figures, Valloton hopes that every reader will see their own Jesus; one that was particularly right for him or her."
The illustrations in the Griggs collection featured here at Rotation.org are similar to but NOT the same illustrations used in the Good News Bible (GNB).
Most of the people in the Griggs-Vallotton collection DO have facial features, no doubt, in part because they were commissioned for a work that featured larger versions of her illustrations than those found in the GNB. But Vallotton continued to leave Jesus' face up to the viewer, and we might add, grace us with the volumes spoken by his posture and gestures and the people reacting to his message.