From Darkest England to The Hope of the World: Protestant Pedagogy and the Visual Culture of the London Missionary Society
Author: Brewer, Sandy
Source: Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief, 1 January 2005, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 98-124(27)
Abstract:The Hope of the World, painted by Harold Copping for the London Missionary Society (LMS) in 1915, is arguably the most popular picture of Jesus produced in Britain in the twentieth century. It was an iconic image in the Sunday school movement between 1915 and 1960, embodying the shift to a progressive child-centered pedagogy, and providing the inspiration for juvenile involvement in the missionary project. Millions of copies of the picture were sold globally and its vision of the world united in the loving embrace of Christ was the inspiration for many variations on the same theme. Despite this success, The Hope of the World remains absent from the histories of the period in which it was produced, belonging to a genre of representation commonly dismissed as "picture postcard piety." This article seeks to establish the socio-historical importance of The Hope of the World through an account of its conception, production, circulation, and reception. It argues that this, together with similar pictures produced by the LMS, can, despite their imperialistic veneer, provide evidence of progressive thinking about issues of ethnicity, gender, and class.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2005