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Protestant Iconography

October 2, 2014

Calvary ME001

The question of Protestant iconography isn’t troubling for me, but I do flinch at first thought. These two postcards—advertising pieces for the muralist Harry Hanley Parker (1869-1917), who decorated Calvary M.E. church in West Philadelphia—suggest the power that such imagery would have contributed to the crucible of an “auditorium” sanctuary. As adverts, it’s too bad Parker economized with black-and-white.

See what I mean?

hanley_parker_sermon_on_the_mount861x315

Generally, images of the nativity and the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus—the episodes that framed his life—appeared less often than images drawn from his three-year ministry. “The Sermon on the Mount” was very popular, for example, perhaps because it related to the preaching nature of the auditorium space itself: what you saw on the wall was what you had just experienced during the service.

There were two other images that proved popular with Methodists especially. But I’ll save those for another day.

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