Under Four Flags: The Third Official United States War Picture


This World War I poster advertises the documentary film Under Four Flags, which was made by the Division of Films of the Committee on Public Information, a government body established in the United States to foster public unity and drum up support for the war effort. The committee was headed by muckraking journalist George Creel (1876–1953). The four flags referred to are those of the United States, France, Great Britain, and Italy, the Allied powers fighting Germany and Austria-Hungary. The two-hour silent film showed French refugees fleeing from the Germans, enemy submarine attacks, the battles of Château-Thierry and Saint-Mihiel, and a review of U.S. and French troops by General John J. Pershing. The armistice of November 11, 1918, was declared just as the film was being completed. Shots of New Yorkers celebrating the war's end were hastily inserted in the final reel and the titles were changed to make it a summary of the last days of the war. The poster was created by Philip Martiny (1858–1927), who was born in Alsace, France, and immigrated to the United States in 1876. Martiny is primarily known as a sculptor. His works can still be found in public squares and buildings in cities throughout the United States, including New York, Washington D.C., Jersey City, New Jersey, and Springfield, Massachusetts.

Last updated: February 10, 2014