John Reilly (1928-2010)

Oil on canvas board

66.5 x 106 cm


Methodist Modern Art Collection
No. REI/1962/3

Image Copyright © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. The Methodist Church Registered Charity no. 1132208

Biblical commentary

Matthew 17: 14 –18

As in his miracle of the loaves and fishes (see previous entry), Reilly places Jesus and his works, in this case the healed boy, in a golden yellow light. By contrast, those in the everyday, ‘fallen’ state of humankind (the boy, in one of his fits, between the two disciples who tried and failed to heal him) are cocooned in a dark and dismal world.

At the time Reilly was painting, the term ‘lunatic’ was widely used for those with mental illnesses such as epilepsy. The artist would have been familiar with the King James Version of the Bible which used the term. Now we recognise that the term is archaic and offensive.

Commentary based on A Guide to the Methodist Art Collection.