The legend of Artaban – the fourth wise man, who arrived at Bethlehem too late to celebrate the birth of Christ – is the basis for a specially commissioned artwork by Peter Howson that will grace the front of the First Minister’s 2013 charity Christmas card.
The artwork, which shows Artaban following the star to the holy town, will feature on the latest in a series of the First Minister’s charity Christmas cards that have raised more than £148,000 for good causes through sales of the original paintings and limited edition prints.
The artwork will be sold at auction in the New Year, with the proceeds shared between the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland; CLIC Sargent; Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund and Combat Stress, the charity chosen by the artist. Each charity will also be given a series of limited edition prints to help their own fundraising efforts.
The artwork was unveiled in front of Mr Howson and representatives of the charities at an event in Prestwick at Malcolm Sargent House, the holiday home run by CLIC Sargent for young people and their families who are coping with cancer. Earlier this year, the First Minister officially opened the home’s playroom.
The unveiling comes days after a major exhibition of Peter Howson’s work – called A Life - opened in London’s Flowers Gallery in Cork Street.
The First Minister said:
“The legend of Artaban, or the fourth wise man, is based on a novel by Henry van Dyke. It tells the tale of a Persian scholar who, delayed by helping the vulnerable, follows the star to Bethlehem but arrives just too late to herald the birth of the Christ child. Thirty years on in Jerusalem, at Passover, Artaban is still searching.
“Now an old man, he parts with the last of his three gifts to Jesus - a sapphire, a ruby and a pearl - to save a young girl from slavery. However, in a dying vision, Artaban is comforted that his devotion to the distressed has secured him entrance to the kingdom of heaven. The story reminds us that hope, faith and self-sacrifice are at the centre of the order of things.
“Arteban it is a hugely appropriate work for my 2013 Christmas card that will benefit four very deserving organisations - Children’s Hospice Association Scotland; CLIC Sargent; Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund and Combat Stress.
“I am very grateful to Peter for donating this outstanding painting. As you might expect, it’s a typically powerful image - unmistakeably Howson - and I am sure it will go on to make a significant figure for these four very good causes at auction next year.
“Since we launched the charity Christmas card initiative in 2007, sales of artwork and prints have raised a substantial amount – more than £148,000 – for charities across Scotland. I am confident that, with such an iconic artist providing the image this year, we’ll have another fantastic result for these excellent organisations.”
Lucy Caldicott, CLIC Sargent’s Director of Fundraising said:
“We are thrilled that the First Minister is launching his charity Christmas card at Malcolm Sargent House this year. We are grateful for his support and hope the card will raise money to help children and young people with cancer throughout the festive season.”
Maria McGill, Children's Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) Chief Executive, said:
"The First Minister continues to be hugely supportive of the work of CHAS and it is a real honour to be chosen to benefit from the card. Our two children’s hospices Rachel House and Robin House and our homecare service CHAS at Home are busier than ever. Families across Scotland are looking forward to spending Christmas with us knowing they can simply relax and enjoy the festivities as a family. We’re incredibly grateful to the First Minister for highlighting our work and supporting families in this way."
Andrew Cameron, Chief Executive of Combat Stress said:
“On behalf of the hundreds of Scottish Veterans supported by Combat Stress, we would like to thank the First Minister and Peter Howson for choosing Combat Stress to benefit from these cards. Their support will help us to change the lives of those Veterans who need dedicated mental health care.
“For most of us, the realities of war are far removed from our everyday lives. It means a great deal for a war artist like Peter Howson, who served in the Royal Highland Fusiliers and bore witness to the horrors of war in Bosnia and Kosovo, to support us. Peter Howson and the First Minister are signalling, in a very personal way, the importance of specialist treatment for Veterans suffering psychological wounds from their service.”
Philippa Bonella, SCIAF’s Head of Communications and Education said:
“It is a huge honour for the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, SCIAF, to be chosen by the First Minister to benefit from his Christmas card initiative. Artaban by Peter Howson is a fantastic painting and I’m sure its sale will be a great success.
“SCIAF helps people in some of the poorest countries in the world to work their way out of poverty and overcome natural disasters such as the devastating typhoon which hit the Philippines. The money given to us will help people in desperate need to turn their lives around.”
Notes to editors
An image of Artaban is available by contacting 0131 244 2668. The original work is 1.4m x 1.1m.
Since the First Minister launched the official charity Christmas card initiative, more than £148,000 has been raised for good causes through sales of original works and limited edition prints by John Lowrie Morrison, the late John Bellany, Gerard Burns, Jack Vettriano, Alasdair Gray and Dame Elizabeth Blackadder. Charities to have benefitted in the past include Bethany Christian Trust, Quarriers, Mary’s Meals and Dyslexia Scotland.
Information on CLIC Sargent is here - www.clicsargent.org.uk
Information on Children’s Hospice Association Scotland is here - www.chas.org.uk
Information on the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund - www.sciaf.org.uk
Information on Combat Stress is here – www.combatstress.org.uk
Further information about Peter Howson, including a full CV, is available at www.peterhowson.co.uk