Ariel Agemian (1904-1963) is a name I was not familiar with, before today. But his paintings are beautiful.
His family was all killed in the 1915 mass genocide of Armenians by the new country of Turkey. (Yeah, nothing like blaming the Armenians for WWI, and stealing their lands and houses.)
But Agemian got out, and was raised in the Armenian community in Italy. He ended up also working in places like France and the US, doing both secular and religious paintings, as well as decorating churches.
His style is a nice blending of modern with traditional, East with West. I like his stuff a lot.
He was named a Knight of St. Gregory for his services to the Church. He did a lot of cardinals’ and bishops’ portraits, as well as being employed by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood to produce illustrations for various US Catholic books: My Daily Psalms, My Imitation of Christ, Christ in the Gospel, My Meditation on the Gospel, and My Mass. (Agemian’s illustrations were used to great effect in a stirring Holy Week video spot from EWTN, found on the linked page.)
Here’s the official website for his paintings.
“Oneness in Christ” is a wonderful painting of the reception of the Eucharist. (It also shows pre-Vatican II Catholic women in hats…. Yes, I do run this into the ground, but until people stop forgetting, it needs to be noted.)
His realistic recreation of the Face on the Shroud of Turin is great. I also like this sketch of an older version of the Blessed Mother.
I like his Pre-Raphaelitish painting of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Portraying Jesus as sitting on a wall, danglng His legs, is great fun as well as emphasizing His age.
Re: the young blond Christs that are in some of his paintings but not others — the official website attributes this to Agemian liking to paint his daughter Annig, who is a very blonde Armenian.
(And yes, there were occasionally blond and red-headed Jews and Middle Easterners, even back in the day. One of the Egyptian stereotypes about the Sea Peoples was that they were redheads. The House of David was supposed to have a lot of redheads, Esau was notoriously a redhead, and even the Neanderthal bones found in Israel included some redheads. It should also be noted that a lot of folks are blond as kids, but end up with light or dark brown hair after adolescence. My neighbor’s son and my own older brother were two of these. So Agemian wasn’t being unhistorical, per se — he was making a now-unpopular artistic/symbolic choice.)