Warner Sallman (April 30, 1892 – May 25, 1968) was an evangelical Christian painter from Chicago. He created commercial advertising images and worked as a freelance illustrator. He is most associated with his portrait, Head of Christ of which more than 500 million copies have been sold. In 1994, the New York Times wrote he is likely to be voted the "best-known artist of the century".
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Warner Elias Sallman was the eldest of three children born to Elias Sallman and Christiane (Larson) Sallman who were immigrants from Finland and Sweden. He trained by apprenticing in local studios while attending the Chicago Art Institute at night. There he became a protégé of Walter Marshall Cluett, a newspaper illustrator noted for his work during the Spanish American War. He initially was affiliated with local studios until he opened his own. In 1916 he married Ruth Anderson, whom he met while both were singing in the church choir.
Sallman is best known for his Head of Christ, which was designed in 1941, and by the 1990s, had sold over 500 million copies that are used in churches of several Christian denominations, as well as for private devotional use.
Sallman is also well known for his rendition of the popular image Christ at Heart's Door. Other popular images produced from 1942 to 1950 include Christ in Gethsemane, The Lord is My Shepherd, and Christ Our Pilot.
The vast collection of his original works, including Head of Christ, is owned by Anderson University. Warner Press, the publishing arm of the Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, holds the copyright and distribution rights to all Warner Sallman images.
Sallman also created a lesser-known work called The Ascension of Christ. The painting is owned by and located in the First Covenant Church, Iron Mountain, Michigan. It measures 20 feet wide by 23 feet high. The painting was done in one of the large meeting rooms on the campus of North Park College (now University) in Chicago and shipped in two large rolls to Iron Mountain where it was installed by the men of the church on the wall above the choir loft. Mr. Sallman came to Iron Mountain to put finishing touches on the painting and attend the dedication at First Covenant Church in May, 1952. It is believed to be the largest painting done by the artist.
Mr. Sallman named the eleven apostles in the painting (from left to right) James, the lesser; Philip; Matthew; Thaddeus; James, the elder, son of Zebedee; Thomas, the doubter; John, brother of James; Andrew, brother of Simon Peter; Simon Peter, now shepherd of the flock; Simon, the Zealot; Bartholomew. It is noted that the full figure of Christ can be seen from any elevation as one enters the church.
- Lundbom, Jack R. Master Painter: Warner E. Sallman (Mercer University Press. 1999)
- Morgan, David Icons of American Protestantism: The Art of Warner Sallman (Yale University Press. 1996)
- Peterson, Sylvia E and Warner Sallman Story of Sallman's The Lord's Supper (Kriebel & Bates/Prt by Warner Press. 1950)
- Todd, Jesse T. "Warner Sallman's Head of Christ". Warner Sallman's Jesus. Drew University. Archived from the original on 2005-09-03. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
- Have You Seen This Man?, Art, Newsweek, July 2/July 9, 2007, p. 68 (The brief column replied to the title-question by saying "Probably, and looking exactly like this. Warner Sallman's 1940 oil painting The Head of Christ is believed to be the most reproduced religious work of art. It's been copied a billion times, if you include lamps, clocks and calendars.")
- Mehegan, David (2004-01-17). "Personal Jesus". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
- Grimes, William (12 October 1994). "The Man Who Rendered Jesus For the Age of Duplication". The New York Times. p. 13.
- Tribute to Warner Sallman
- "Warner Sallman Collection". Retrieved 2008-10-09.
- (125th Anniversary 1882-2007, First Covenant Church of Iron Mountain, Michigan. Booklet)
- The Warner Sallman Collection at Anderson University (Anderson, Indiana)
- Warner E. Sallman Art Collection, Inc.
- Warner Sallman artwork, Warner Press