Sallman’s Head of Christ

DVD, Vision Video (, 47 minutes, $15.99 (VHS, $2.99)

This is a fascinating documentary concerning one of the most beloved, recognized, and distributed portraits that has ever been painted. Soldiers carried copies with them during World War II as a comfort and encouragement; calendar companies and funeral homes have made the portrait available to clients; Sunday Schools and churches have placed the paintings in their rooms; and almost all homes have at least one copy, whether on walls or in books. Over two decades ago, Sallman’s “Head of Christ” had been reproduced more than half a billion times.

In recent years, however, the paintings of Jesus by Warner Sallman have come under attack. Some fundamentalists don’t like Christ’s having long hair in the portrait, but the vast majority of criticism has come from Left Wing circles who call the paintings racist, among other things. Courts have also removed the paintings from schools and public buildings over the issue of “separation of church and state.”

The DVD is educational concerning the spiritual trends in our society. This reviewer found the material on Warner Sallman’s life the most interesting part of the production.