What links the War Artist James Clark to Nayland?

In 1914 the war artist James Clark rose to prominence when his moving painting “The Great Sacrifice” was reproduced in The Graphic illustrated newspaper in December 1914.

The Great Sacrifice by James Clark c.1914

The Graphic says “Like all great pictures, it was produced in a moment of inspiration.  At the foot of the Cross, which symbolizes the whole spirit of Christmastide, sleeping his last sleep lies a young soldier sacrificed on the altar of duty to country”.

The original painting was donated by Clark to the War Relief Exhibition which opened in January 1915, where under its original title of “Duty” it was purchased by Queen Mary.

The picture hit a nerve with the people back at home, with copies being reproduced in homes, hospitals, class rooms, mission halls and churches throughout the county, often becoming makeshift shrines alongside the rolls of honour.

Which brings us to the connection with St James in Nayland.

For many years the memorial window depicting “Christ the King greeted by Nayland Parishioners” and dedicated to Edith Farmiloe (herself an artist and illustrator of children’s books) has been attributed incorrectly to Robert Anning Bell (c.1921).

In fact correspondence between Clark’s grandson and the former incumbent of Nayland, The Revd David Strannack, in 1993 reveals that in James Clark’s yearbook for 1930 he noted that he had “Designed, made cartoon and painted a memorial window for Nayland Church, Suffolk in memory of Mrs Farmiloe”

Christ the King greeted by parishioners in Nayland Photograph (c) Simon Knott (www.suffolkchurches.co.uk)

It is hoped that when the church guidebook is next reprinted the new correct attribution will be give, a small tribute to a moving and talented artist, and a most appropriate one for us to make as we approach the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War One and we look afresh at the works of the great artists and the part that they have played in helping us understand the tragedy and horrors of war and the cost that a generation were prepared to make in the hope of a better future for all.

Join us on Remembrance Sunday as we come together as a community to pay our respects.

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