Annie Vallotton was the illustrator of the iconic Bible images published in the American Bible Society’s Good News Bible—one of the best-selling Bibles of all time. Her 500+ timeless line drawings conveyed a biblical narrative that transcended race, gender, and language, and were teachable in their own right.
“I did some of the drawings for the Good News Bible 80-90 times before I achieved the one I wanted,” Vallotton said in a 2008 interview. “I wanted to get to the truth… the most important thing.”
Vallotton was born in Lausanne, Switzerland. She dedicated her life to sharing the Bible’s message in clear, simple, and inspiring ways. During WW II she served as a messenger in the French resistance. In addition to the Good News Bible, Vallotton illustrated other Christian books, traveled, taught, and designed stained glass windows. Annie passed away in 2013 at the age of 98, but her gifts live on.
The American Bible Society captured many of Vallotton's unique storytelling and drawing presentations of Bible stories on 16mm film. They are available online here. Here is a charming sample:
One of the surprising features of Vallotton's New Testament illustrations is that Jesus doesn't have any facial features. Don Griggs shared with us an explanation given to him by Annie.
Annie wrote, “By using few lines the readers fill in the outlines with their imagination and freedom. That is when the drawings begin to communicate.”
Annie wrote that she wants the viewer to imagine Jesus in their own way.
Here is additional explanation from John Fea, author of a history of the American Bible Society, when asked about Annie's "faceless" Jesus illustrations in the Good News Bible.
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 Vallotton drawings presented here at Rotation.org were originally commissioned by Don and Pat Griggs for a series of scripted teaching presentations for adults and children that they produced as part of their Griggs Education Service publishing ministry.
Read the next post for more information on the drawings in the Griggs-Vallotton collection here at Rotation.org.
Links to more information about Annie Vallotton and her art: