After the First World War, Brangwyn was commissioned to produce Stations of the Cross for Arras cathedral through the recommendation of his friend Theophile Steinlen (1859-1923). Reproductions of the Stations were to be distributed to other war damaged churches. Unfortunately the series was never completed. It was generally reported that this was due to the death of the model Cervi, although we know from Alford's diary that Jafrate also posed as Christ. The death of Steinlen in December 1923, and the artist's wife Lucy in 1924 may have had more to do with the failure of the commission.
Brangwyn used traditional Flemish dress for many of the female figures, an idea previously used by Gauguin in his religious paintings, for example the Breton costumes in Vision After the Sermon, 1888. In 1921 Alford noted that Brangwyn was experimenting with the colour of the series 'being of a warm orangey green scheme with strong shadows. It is interesting that this scheme was thought out by him on Sunday night and put down on paper with pencil showing a rough sketch of the work in the colours written at the side of the sketch' (Alford Diary, 21 February 1921). Known examples of the series do indeed show bright, primitive colouring.
The present work, called a study by Galloway, represents the Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus. It was exhibited along with many other studies for the series at Queen's Gate in 1924. The group were well received and the reviewer in the Morning Post commented 'If the series when complete fulfils the promise of the studies, then Mr Brangwyn will have expressed supreme incidents in the history of humanity with the finality of beauty.’
We are grateful to Dr Libby Horner for her assistance in preparing this catalogue entry. The oil is number S2732 in her catalogue raisonné.