The Bishop of Glouces­ter’s Favourite Paint­ing The cleric chooses a Craigie Aitchi­son Cru­ci­fix­ion

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

ALL the best pic­tures are sad and all the best mu­sic is sad,’ said Craigie Aitchi­son and the sad­dest sub­ject was Christ’s Cru­ci­fix­ion. ‘They were all gang­ing up against one per­son. As long as the world ex­ists, one should at­tempt to record that. It was so un­fair.’ Thus spoke a son of Scot­land’s Lord Ad­vo­cate, a crim­i­nal bar­ris­ter famed as the na­tion’s fore­most cham­pion of the un­der­dog, and of a mother who drove am­bu­lances at the Front and, in the post-first World War de­pres­sion, ran a play­ground for poor chil­dren near the Aitchi­son home in Ed­in­burgh’s New Town. His fa­ther took the fam­ily to church on Sun­days re­gard­less of de­nom­i­na­tion. Aitchi­son found Catholi­cism the most pleas­ing to the eye, but his first-birth­day pre­sent es­tab­lished his faith: ‘I’ve al­ways be­lieved ever since I was given a pic­ture All Things Bright and Beau­ti­ful.’ The pic­ture hung over his bed all his life.

The Tate’s Cru­ci­fix­ion, as usual with the artist, com­bines the sa­cred sub­ject with a love of Bedling­ton ter­ri­ers and the Ar­ran land­scape. For an Easter­tide is­sue, one com­mends his paint­ings in the Angli­can cathe­drals of Liver­pool and Truro, se­cured by Ed­wina Sas­soon through the Jerusalem Trust. With ad­di­tional help from the Lind­bury Trust and the Mary Lewis and Fam­ily Trust, Miss Sas­soon also en­sured that his de­sign for a stained-glass Cru­ci­fix­ion was posthu­mously re­alised by Neil Phillips for Lon­don’s St Mary The Boltons. It was ded­i­cated as a memo­rial win­dow in 2012. It in­cludes a Bedling­ton dog ‘which they say has the ap­pear­ance of a lamb and the heart of a lion’.

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