“I drew some of the drawings eighty to ninety times before I achieved the one I wanted. I wanted to get to the truth, which is the most important thing.”

William Collins Publishers and The Bible Society are proud to present the works of bestselling artist Annie Vallotton, the illustrator of the iconic images of the UK’s best-loved Bible Translation – the Good News Bible.

According to the Guinness Book of Records – the Good News Bible became one of the bestselling bibles of all time. Over 104 million copies were sold in the first ten years.

‘The Bible in Pictures’

The Work of Annie Vallotton – A Lasting Legacy

The exhibition “The Bible in Pictures: The Work of Annie Vallotton, A Lasting Legacy” is inspired by the UK launch of three new editions of the Good News Bible, Rainbow (for primary school), New Life (for age 12+), and Sunrise (for age 16+).

Generations of children have grown up with the illustrations by Vallotton. Presented in their original form, the dynamic line drawings will be exhibited this spring at St Martin in-the-Fields at London’s Trafalgar Square, exploring four themes:

Miracles of the Bible;
The Life and Miracles of Jesus;
Children in the Bible; and,
The Passion.

Annie the Bestselling Artist

In 1966, after a ten-minute interview during an airport layover in Germany, Bible translator Eugene Nida selected Vallotton as the illustrator for the innovative New Testament translation, “Good News for Modern Man,” which later became the Good News Bible. The translation was the first to bring the Bible to the masses in straight-forward, everyday language.

Vallotton’s simple line-drawing illustrations illuminated the Bible’s stories for readers. The success of Good News for Modern Man was followed by the complete Bible translation, the Good News Bible, which included pen and ink illustrations by Vallotton. To date, the Good News Bible has sold more than 225 million copies – each with Vallotton’s illustrations.

Annie was delighted at the privilege of gracing the pages of the Bible with her art.  In her own words: “I was very excited.  I used a pencil for the rough drafts and a pen to ink them. I never added colour.  I had no need to research clothing or buildings – you see I wanted drawings that were ‘out of time’.”

She produced over five hundred illustrations, which appear in the more than 150 million copies of the Good News Bible sold since 1966, meaning that her pictures have been printed at least 70 billion times.  And that’s just in the English versions – her illustrations also appear in Bibles in dozens of other languages.

The Illustrations

The charm of the illustrations is in their unassuming simplicity. Few of Annie’s characters have much in the way of faces – or any other detail – and yet they are full of life and character, and can be very evocative.

Vallotton’s aim, she says, is “to give maximum expression with a minimum of lines”.  The drawings are timeless. The largely, expressionless figures make little attempt to interpret the text, but rather invite the reader to do so.

Annie the Legend

Vallotton was born in Lausanne, Switzerland and dedicated her life to finding ways to share the Bible’s message in a clear, simple way. In addition to the Good News Bible, Vallotton illustrated other Christian books, including Who Are You Jesus? and From the Apple to the Moon.

Born in Switzerland in 1915, Annie Vallotton began her artistic career by painting frescoes on the walls of World War II refugee camps, making them more welcoming to the refugees who included families from Poland, Estonia, and the Baltic region. She also played an active role in the French resistance.

Musical, charming and indeed one of the world’s bestselling artists, Annie died on 28 December 2013, aged 98. She wasn’t famous or fêted, but her illustrations, published in the Good News Bible, have helped make the Bible’s message accessible to countless people around the world.