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Why M.C.A.?: German Prisoners of War, World War One, before Y.M.C.A. Hut
This original ink-and-wash cartoon from World War I by Bruce Bairnsfather (1888-1959) depicts German prisoners of war lounging before a hut with a YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) sign. The cartoon is on a grey board. The witty holograph caption is on the back. Bairnsfather was a British army officer who was trained as an artist; while serving on the Western front in 1914-15, he made drawings of war scenes that were published in British magazines. He is best known as the creator of “Old Bill,” a fictional character ...
Retreat of Napoleon from Leipzig, 1813
This original watercolor drawing by John Augustus Atkinson (1775-1833?) shows Napoleon seated in a tent shelter, surrounded by soldiers and members of his staff. Atkinson was an English painter and printmaker who specialized in military themes. He produced sets of engravings showing British military uniforms, and was also known for his watercolors of historical events. In 1815, Atkinson was commissioned to collaborate with the British artist Arthur William Devis (1762-1822) on a painting of the Battle of Waterloo. In 1819, John Burnet, the first engraver to specialize in the reproduction ...
European Cavalry Battle Scene
This is the first in a pair of original gouache paintings by F. Oetinger showing a violent cavalry battle during the Seven Years' War (1756-63), a conflict that involved all the major European powers and was fought on the European continent as well as in the colonies; it became known as the first global war. As a result of the conflict, France lost most of its North American colonies, Prussia reemerged as the dominant power in Europe, and Great Britain emerged as the world’s most powerful nation. The painting ...
The Fencing Lesson
This original ink-and-watercolor caricature shows a petite, prancing Napoleon dueling with a heavy, domineering Gerhard Leberecht von Blücher, while a British sailor judges the match. The participants in the duel are backed by supporters: Napoleon’s faction includes French generals, while von Blücher’s includes German peasants and a Russian cossack. The caricature parodies political conditions at the time. Following Napoleon’s retreat from Russia, the Germanic states, led by Prussia, reentered the wars against Napoleon. At the time the caricature was made, Prussian incursions were the primary threat to ...
Departure of Soldiers to a Battle
Originally, this unsigned wash drawing of soldiers leaving for battle was attributed to Johann-Philipp Lembke, but it is now considered to be the work of Jacques Courtois (1621-76). Courtois was a French painter who lived most of his life in Italy; he is also known as Il Borgognone. Following his training as an artist, Courtois served in the French military. He is widely recognized for his depictions of battles, often done in wash drawing. This style, which is produced by applying a series of monochrome washes over a pen or ...
Attack on a Barricade in Paris, 1848
This unsigned early pencil sketch by British artist John Everett Millais (1829-96) shows the chaos of the February 1848 revolution in Paris that ended the reign of Louis-Philippe and established the French Second Republic. In February 1848, the French merchant classes erected barricades throughout Paris to protest their lack of political rights and the difficulties caused by an extended economic depression. In an incident outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a soldier fired into a crowd, inciting a riot. By the end of February, Louis-Philippe had fled and the opposition ...
Indian Demons Attacking Fort Defended by European Troops
This unsigned watercolor by an unknown Indian artist depicts the events of the Third Mysore War (1790-92). The Anglo-Mysore wars were a series of conflicts in the late 18th century that were fought between the Kingdom of Mysore, located in southwestern India, and the British East India Company. After victories in the first two wars, Mysore, led by Tipu Sultan, invaded the nearby coastal state of Travancore, which was a British ally. This led to the Third Mysore War, which the British won. Although the royal family of Mysore was ...
Royal Farewell to the Imperial Yeomanry: the Prince of Wales Shaking Hands with the Officers
This wash drawing on paper, mounted on board, is by Henry Marriott Paget (1856-1936), who created it for the British illustrated weekly newspaper, the Graphic, where it appeared on February 3, 1900. The drawing shows Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), saying farewell to the soldiers of the Imperial Yeomanry, a volunteer cavalry regiment established to fight in the Boer War. The first contingent of soldiers left for South Africa in February 1900. Paget was one of three brothers–Henry, Sidney Edward (1860-1908), and Walter ...
Relieving Guard at the Vatican
This pencil caricature depicts King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and Napoleon III as soldiers changing guard, while Pope Pius IX peers around the corner. The caricature relates to the intricate maneuvering in the mid-19th century among France, Austria, the Papal States, and Italian nationalists that preceded the unification of Italy. French and Austrian troops had been in Rome to protect the Papal States since 1850, when Pius IX began to fear the rise of anti-papal nationalists. In 1858, the Sardinians entered into an agreement with Napoleon III to fight ...
The Military Procession
This is the first of a pair of unsigned watercolors by the German artist Georg Emanuel Opitz (1775-1841). It shows a procession of cossack soldiers marching through Paris during the occupation of the city in 1814. Opitz, who focused on portraiture and caricature, traveled to Paris in 1813 and witnessed the arrival of Russian and Prussian forces in the city following the Battle of Paris. Until this battle, no foreign army had entered Paris in 400 years. The French defeat led to the abdication of the Emperor Napoleon. The watercolor ...
England Plate 2nd
This unsigned wash drawing is presumed to be the original by William Hogarth (1697-1764) for the etched plate, The Invasion, Plate 2, England. Hogarth was a major English pictorial satirist and social critic. He was also one of the first artists to draw subjects in a series. One of his best-known works is the series The Rake’s Progress, which shows the downfall of a young man of means who squanders his inheritance. The Invasion series, consisting of two plates, depicts the French plotting an invasion of England while the ...
Colonel John Whitehead Peard: Commonly Known as Garibaldi's Englishman
This original watercolor, signed and dated August 22, 1860, by Thomas Nast (1840-1902), originally was thought to be of Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi, but later was identified as showing Colonel John Whitehead Peard. Known as “Garibaldi’s Englishman,” Peard was an Oxford-educated lawyer and the son of a British admiral. He joined Garibaldi in 1860, ostensibly because of the brutality of the officials he witnessed during a visit to Naples. Peard fought in the wars of Italian unification and was awarded the Cross of the Order of Valour by King ...
Forest. Anita Dying
This painting depicting Italian patriots during the wars of Italian independence is excerpted from a multi-scene, “moving” panorama that is more than 1.2 meters tall and 110 meters long. Giant paintings such as these were a popular form of entertainment in the 19th century. The panorama scroll would be unrolled slowly as a narrator described the action. In its entirety, this panorama chronicles the life and exploits of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian freedom fighter. The work is attributed to John James Story (1827-1900), an artist from Nottingham, England, but ...
Soldiers on a March: "To Pack up Her Tatters and Follow the Drum"
This hand-colored etched caricature is by British caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson (1756?-1827). Rowlandson was trained as an artist in both England and France, but seems to have seen his profession as a way to make money rather than as an art form. As a result, he produced works that would sell – including pornographic images and illustrations of poems, as well as cartoons. Rowlandson produced his works by first drawing an image, then washing it with color, etching it on copper, having it engraved by a professional engraver, and then hand ...
Going to Work
This watercolor on heavy board, showing military personnel of the Women’s Army Corps in New Guinea in 1944, during World War II, is signed and dated by the artist, John Cullen Murphy (1919-2004). Murphy was an American cartoonist best known for drawing the Prince Valiant comic strip. Murphy joined the armed forces in 1940 and spent the war years in the Pacific, where he was an anti-aircraft officer, and drew illustrations for the Chicago Tribune. The battle for New Guinea was one of the major military campaigns in the ...
Military Transport Boats at Iwo Jima
This impressionistic painting of military transport boats approaching Iwo Jima is the work of Harry Reeks (1921-82), an official Marine Corps combat artist who sketched battles in the Pacific during World War II. He arrived at Iwo Jima with the invasion force and spent 30 days there drawing the campaign. The battle for Iwo Jima, from February 19, 1945, to March 26, 1945, was one of the fiercest in the Pacific campaign of the war, and is best remembered for the iconic photograph of Marines raising the flag on the ...
Britain Infantry Uniform Sketch (Rutland Militia?)
This sketch is the 14th of 15 original unsigned pencil and ink drawings attributed to Philip James de Loutherbourg (1740-1812). De Loutherbourg, an English artist of French descent, painted many large scenes of English naval victories, including The Defeat of the Spanish Armada. This sketch includes drawings of a uniformed infantryman with a rifle, a head with a cap, and notes on uniform coloring. The uniform may be that of the Rutland Militia, a British regiment founded in 1759. De Loutherbourg sketched these soldiers during mock battles held at Warley ...
In the summer of 1853, Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the U.S. Navy visited Japan, bearing a letter from U.S. President Millard Fillmore demanding certain concessions from the Japanese court. Perry’s visit was followed by the conclusion of the 1854 Treaty of Kanagawa, which opened Japanese ports to U.S. trade. This painting by an anonymous Japanese artist shows visiting U.S. troops conducting military exercises. It is the fourth panel of a 12-panel silk-bound scroll from the collections of the Brown University Library, and is similar ...
British Artillerymen Pulling a Gun
This unfinished ink sketch by Benjamin West (1738-1820) shows British artillerymen from the Napoleonic Wars straining at a rope to drag a canon. The tenth child of a Pennsylvania innkeeper, West became one of the foremost artists of his day, despite having had very little formal education. In 1763, he moved to London, where he became a co-founder of the Royal Academy of Arts. He was a close friend of Benjamin Franklin, and was commissioned by King George III to paint portraits of the royal family. West later became the ...
Soldiers in Uniform
This watercolor from the American War of Independence is by Jean Baptiste Antoine de Verger (1762-1851), a French artist who himself fought in the war as a sub-lieutenant in a French regiment and who kept an illustrated journal of his experiences in the war. The watercolor, which appears in the journal, shows the variety of soldiers fighting for American independence, depicting, from left to right, a black soldier of the First Rhode Island Regiment, a New England militiaman, a frontier rifleman, and a French officer. An estimated 5,000 African-American ...
Scene upon the Terrace of the Great Dagon Pagoda
This watercolor by Lieutenant Joseph Moore of Her Majesty’s 89th Regiment, British Army, depicts the scene upon the terrace of the Great Dagon Pagoda (Shwedagon Pagoda), in Rangoon, Burma. It was one of a series of pictures drawn by Moore that were subsequently published in London in 1825–26 as aquatint plates under the title Eighteen Views Taken at and near Rangoon. The prints depict various scenes from the First Anglo–Burmese War (1824–26), which the British fought to halt Burmese expansionism and incursions into British India. Rangoon ...