Synagogue and Church

Controversy

Even before the unveiling of Synagogue and Church on October 5, 1919, several of Sargent’s contemporaries questioned his selection of this traditional allegorical pair. Once the two paintings were displayed, some among his Boston audiences spoke persuasively against them, believing that the artist’s use of this imagery, in which steadfast Church contrasts with blindfolded and collapsing Synagogue, would endorse past prejudice and encourage discrimination in the present.
1. Synagogue, east wall
(1919 photo)
2. Church, east wall (1919 photo)
The Triumph of Religion