GILL, Eric. ~ Original design in pencil and with ink lettering for League of Nations Sculpture - ‘In the Image of God created he him’
Pencil and red ink. 5.5 x 18.5 cms. Very good. Framed and glazed.
In 1935 Eric Gill was commissioned by the British Government to provide a huge relief sculpture for the League of Nations Building in Geneva. It was the largest commission of his life being three huge panels in seventeen sections. His first idea was to depict Christ driving the money changers from the Temple but this was rejected as one American financial delegate objected that the subject would represent the last and greatest hypocrisy of the British Empire. So, in June 1935,Gill wrote to Anthony Eden with a new idea: The Creation of Man.
In his letter to Eden he wrote: “Imagine the centre panel 28ft and 7ft high, pratcially entirely filled with a naked figure of a man reclining (rather as in the picture of the Adam by Michel Angelo) a vast and grand figure of Man with hand outstretched and the tip of his finger touching the tip of the finger of God which is coming down from above, and in fine letters on the background, in Latin because it is a universal statement and not specially an English one, the words, ‘Ad Imaginem Dei Creavit Illum”. Because that is the point, Man was created in the image of God and it is that image which is being defaced and befouled”.
The drawing shows the design almost exactly as it was executed - there is an additional Latin phrase in the final carving. The Latin here is Genesis Chapter I “In the Image of God created he him” and the English lettering is the beginning of ‘The Wreck of the Deutschland’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
The sculpture was carved in 1937 and installed in 1938.
Included is a relief reproduction of the finished sculpture and a postcard of it in situ.