New Church Artist Jean-Jacques Gailliard (1890-1976)

gailliardchapelsm.jpg“At the end of 1914, and the beginning of 1915, we advertised our [New Church] Library in two Brussels newspapers, but friends advised me not to continue, as these newspapers were being betrayed to the enemy. I could not imagine any other way to attract new people to our Mission, when it came to my mind to use the art of our brother [Jean-Jacques] Gailliard. I suggested the decoration of our chapel as a possible attraction and he accepted. We studied the question together, and he made a sketch.

At that time, Mr. Melchers came to visit us, and was very much interested, but when we told him that we proposed to paint directly on the walls, he exclaimed that it would be a pity, and advised us to paint on linen so that the pictures could be removed in case of our departure from that place. M. Gailliard worked from March to November [1915], when the decoration was completed. Invitations were then printed, and a small explanatory tract.

The desired result was obtained! The impression is fairy-like! It is a dream! It is unique, not only in the Old Church, but also in the New Church, for it is a new art! A new application of the science of correspondences! From November 22nd to 28th, there was a stream of visitors, and the Mission revived” (Ernst Deltenre. Letter to William H. Alden. 19 February 1919. As quoted in New Church Life 1919, 423).

The artist Jean-Jacques Gailliard had been baptized into the New Church by Rev. Ernst Deltenre on May 21, 1914. Two years earlier Deltenre had opened a General Church mission, with a chapel and library, at 33 rue Gachard in Brussels. Gailliard’s decorated chapel attracted a great deal of attention, including the interest of the Queen of Belgium (see Theodore Pitcairn, “Ten Days on the Continent,” New Church Life 1920, 382). By 1922 the lease on the building had expired and the linen panels were rolled up and subsequently deteriorated.

gailliardpainting.jpgDeltenre later succeeded in obtaining a room for his New Church library in the noted Ravenstein Museum in Brussels, and it was here that a new triptych painted by Gailliard was presented to Deltenre and the mission. The triptych (06.0P.23 a-c), which depicts the threefold Word, is now in the New Church collection of Glencairn Museum, Bryn Athyn, PA. It is made up of three oil paintings in frames that are all hinged together. The middle painting is larger and the two outer ones are narrower. The threefold Word is represented by three figures—Moses (left), John, the evangelist (right), and Swedenborg (middle).

gailliardmoses.jpgMoses, representing the Old Testament, is painted holding the tables of the Ten Commandments with text written in Hebrew: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 2:20).

gailliardjohn.jpgThe New Testament is represented by John the evangelist who is holding a parchment with text written in Greek: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

gailliardswedenborg.jpgThe Writings are represented by Emanuel Swedenborg in the spiritual world, wearing a crown of twelve stars and holding a scroll with text written in Latin: “This book is the Advent of the Lord” (originally handwritten by Swedenborg on a copy of Brief Exposition). A winged horse is in the top right corner and a seven branched lampstand is in the lower right corner.

When folded inwards, the two side panels each have an outline drawing of a cherubim; the cherubim are wearing headdresses with images of an eagle, ram, and lion.

Jean-Jacques Gailliard continued painting into old age. A retrospective exhibition of his work was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in Brussels in 1989. As a New Church artist he was particularly interested in the application of correspondences to art and architecture. During the 1920s he wrote an article calling for a new architectural model for New Church places of worship, based on the “Nunc Licet” temple described in True Christian Religion.

gailliardportrait.jpgIn addition to the triptych, Glencairn Museum also has a portrait of Emanuel Swedenborg painted by Gailliard (06.OP.30).



Photos: The interior photograph of the General Church Mission in Brussels was signed by Rev. Ernst Deltenre on December 4th, 1919 and is in the collection of the Glencairn Museum Archives, Bryn Athyn, PA. The photographs of the triptych were taken by Diane Fehon and are in the collection of the Glencairn Museum Archives. The photograph of the Swedenborg portrait is in the collection of the Glencairn Museum Archives.

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October 19, 2007 | Posted by: Ed and Kirsten Gyllenhaal in New Church History Fun Fact