James Sullivan

recent articles

A Catholic Painter in the Shadows: Gwen John

The following essay first appeared in the September 1995 issue of Crisis Magazine.   Augustus John, her extrovert younger brother, a prodigious talent in the world of painting and portraiture, remarked that his sister brought nothing for herself and yet had managed to see to it that her cats would be fed and cared for … Read more

Gwen John: Art and Faith in the Shadows

On September 18, 1939, the public hospital in the port city of Dieppe, France recorded the death of a sixty-three year old woman, a Catholic painter of some reputation. Gwen John had traveled to this city from Paris only days before, carrying nothing except a notarized copy of her will and burial instructions. Augustus John, … Read more

E.I. Watkin: Herald of the New Spring

E.I. Watkin, English convert and writer, died in 1981 at the age of ninety-two. In his obituary notice in the London Times, he was described as “one of the most distinguished Catholic philosophers of his day.” Special attention was paid to his work The Philosophy of Form (1951), a study in the philosophy of art, … Read more

Gwen John—Art and Faith in the Shadows

On September 18th, 1939, the public hospital in the port city of Dieppe, France recorded the death of a sixty-three year old woman, a Catholic painter of some reputation. Gwen John had traveled to this port city from Paris only days before, carrying nothing except a copy of her will and burial instructions. Augustus John, … Read more

The Idler: A Pilgrimage Between Two Worlds

And how should I know your true love?” sings a plaintive Ophelia in Hamlet. “O, by his cockle hat and staff, and by his sandals shoone.” The cockle hat, a broad felt variety with brim upturned to reveal a scallop shell, was the common headgear of medieval pilgrims making their way through the mountain fastness … Read more

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