American Illustration and the First World War celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the resolution of “The War to End All Wars” by honoring the essential work the American illustrators accomplished in swaying opinions and rallying National support for the war effort.
When the First World War broke out in June 1914, United States President Woodrow Wilson declared the US to be neutral, a popular decision with the public. However, as the War escalated over several years, the United States Congress ultimately declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. Just one week later, President Wilson formed the Committee on Public Information with the purpose to “sell” Americans on the War and change public support in his favor.
Charles Dana Gibson, one of America’s most popular illustrators, was named head of the Division of Pictorial Publicity. In just over 19 months, Gibson and an army of over 300 artists, all unpaid volunteers, produced 1,438 designs for posters, buttons, cards, cartoons, and more to flood the Nation with their message. These widely circulated images strived to accomplish one of three primary goals: to raise money, to conserve food and resources, or to promote enlistment and patriotism.
Featuring original paintings, works on paper, vintage posters and accompanying artifacts, American Illustration and the First World War displays these artworks as powerful, emotional reminders of the hardships and threats the United States faced during this time and highlight the critical role the American illustrators played in the outcome of the War.