Portrait of a Young Man Standing

Leonard McComb’s Portrait of a Young Man Standing is a bronze sculpture from 1962-3. He was influenced by ancient Egyptian art, as may be detected in the figure’s pose, baldness and even colour. Yet it was contemporary events which really inspired it. The Cold War, Kennedy’s assassination and the Cuban Missile Crisis reminded the mid-twentieth century (as if slightly earlier events had not been enough) that mankind was dangerous and destructive. In contrast, the Young Man Standing was to be a beautiful contrast, '…an image of a whole person, his physical and spiritual life being inseparably fused, the embedded capacity for powerful and gentle action, both physical and intellectual'.

Art, of course, seeks to distract us from the drab and ugly reality of our sin-scarred world and to remind us of beauty and contrast. Yet McComb’s work is purely aspirational. He really sees in his figure Adam before his fall- beautiful, righteous and clean. His damaged heirs would be far more corroded, dull and rusty, for they too were damaged and destined for scrap. Thankfully, Christ the perfect man came to earth that we imperfect men might be redeemed and remade according to God’s original blueprint. If, in this idealised sculpture, I see an unblemished Adam the First, I also behold what Adam's progeny shall in Christ become- a brilliant reflection of God’s own glory.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Cor 5:17