Introduction – The Influence of WWI
I chose to base my Early Modern Era blog off of images influenced by WWI. I wanted to get a refresher and a possible better understanding of WWI through the art that came out of it. These images were created for history, documentation and knowledge of World War I. It was interesting to learn about how the United States commissioned artists to go to war to document scenes for history and support. I think that when most people think of art, they picture brightness, beauty, and joy, but these sketches bring a wave of emotion, reality, and possible sadness.
Description – Image #1
American Ration Train Headquarters (1918) by George Mathew Harding.
This sketch, American Ration Train Headquarters, was by George Mathew Harding in 1918 in France. It is a charcoal, crayon, and pastel sketch. George Mathew Harding (1882 – 1959) was one of the World War I and World War II combat artists, devoting a lot of his career to creating pictures based on WWI scenes. Besides being a painter, he was also a muralist, and an author-illustrator. He was from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The image shows a barn, with an opening in the center. To the right is one soldier standing next to a wagon, and to the left is a soldier with two horses, there is also a solder entering the barn behind them. In the center of the breezeway is another soldier riding a horse, and to the left of them is another soldier being mounted. It is obvious that the picture is done with charcoal, but if you look closely you can tell that there is some crayon and pastel detail added to it.
I understand the lack of color because this capture is not based on happiness, it was drawn to show a time of survival, fear, and bravery. This image is not being displayed at the moment, but I feel it would be a good fit for in a museum or in a military building. I have a ton of respect for these images, but I would not own any of them, I don’t think these images should be displayed for decoration in anyone’s home, unless it was a family member of yours, just out for respect for the soldiers, their families, and the war.
Description – Image #2
His bunkie (1918) by William James Aylward.
This image, His bunkie, is by William James Aylward in 1918. William James Aylward (1875 – 1956) joined the American Expeditionary Force in France in 1918, where he was one of the World War I artists. He focused on logistics, such as the french ports. He was a painter and an illustrator. The creation was done with charcoal and crayon. This picture is of a soldier, looking down on his bunk mates grave. On top of his past bunkies grave shows his war helmet, a metal canister of some sort. The cross is wooden, and there is some brush growing around the bunkies resting spot. The soldier has all of his war gear on, as he might be getting ready to leave the area, leaving behind his friend. The background is empty with little detail and texture, and portraying somewhat of a sky in the distance.
This image grabbed my attention because of the message it is sending. It is extremely sad to think about having a bunk mate for possibly years, and knowing that you might lose each other daily at war. I couldn’t image the powerful bond you would create with people while in this environment. I think this image doesn’t only show grief, but it shows love, loyalty, and peace, while saying his last goodbye to his bunkie. I think this image should be displayed in a museum, it is a heavy image, with a lot of meaning.
Description – Image #3
Dressing Station in Ruined Farm (1918) by Wallace Morgan.
The image, Dressing Station in Ruined Farm, was created by Wallace Morgan (1873 – 1948), in 1918, in France. It was made with charcoal and watercolor, on white paper. Wallace Morgan was a sketch artist and illustrator from Albany, New York. He owned a studio where he would illustrate popular magazines. He was selected as one of the World War I artists in 1918, and moved to France for a year, following into Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood. The image is based on a scene in Northern France, in Ploisy. There are two ambulances in front of the broken down barn, and several injured people, leaning on one another to walk. It is shown that many soldiers are receiving treatment, and some are sitting under the large tree on the right possibly waiting for help or were already seen. The image has incredible detail, showing chaos and bravery.
It is clear that there is a lot going on in this image, but it is also calm in a way, people are sitting together under a large tree, there are people helping each other, no one is noticeably panicking. Yes, this drawing is very tragic, and sad, but it shows people working together, which is heartwarming in a way. I like the watercolor included the piece, it gives it some brightness in a time of distress. I wouldn’t own this image, but I do think it should be displayed for knowledge and awareness purposes.
Smithsonian. George Mathew Harding (1882 – 1959). Retrieved from: https://www.si.edu/spotlight/official-artwork-wwi/harding
Smithsonian. William James Aylward (1875 – 1956). Retrieved from: https://www.si.edu/spotlight/official-artwork-wwi/aylward
Smithsonian. Dressing Station in Ruined Farm. Retrieved from: https://www.si.edu/object/dressing-station-ruined-farm:nmah_448052
Smithsonian. Wallace Morgan (1873 – 1948). Retrieved from: https://www.si.edu/spotlight/official-artwork-wwi/morgan
Kutner, Max. (2014). The Riveting Art From the Front Lines of World War I Has Gone Largely Unseen for Decades. Retrieved from: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/remembering-americas-official-artists-war-180952321/