Georgia Museum of Art

The art museum at University of Georgia is amazing!

This exhibition focuses on artists with work in the museum’s permanent collection who served in the military, from the Revolutionary War through World War II.

Revolutionary War

American Revolutionary War patriot Paul Revere was also a silversmith. He likely made these teaspoons in between two separate periods of military service. He had already served in the provincial army during the French and Indian War, beginning in 1756. He spent time at Fort William Henry at Lake George, New York, as a second lieutenant. Following his famous midnight ride to warn Americans that the British were coming, he served as a courier and printed money with which to pay troops. He then joined the Massachusetts militia during the Revolutionary War, where he defended Boston Harbor as a lieutenant colonel in the artillery. He used his engineering skills to measure cannonballs accurately. Following the disaster of the Penobscot Expedition in 1779, he was asked to resign, but eventually exonerated in 1782.

Civil War

James McNeill Whistler attended West Point (the U.S. Military Academy), where several of his relatives had gone. His father also taught drawing there. Col. Robert E. Lee was the superintendent at the time and expelled Whistler for numerous reasons, including bad grades, long hair and lack of respect for authority. Whistler later got a job as a draftsman mapping the U.S. coast for military and maritime purposes but also found this work uninspiring. He spent his time drawing mythological creatures in the margins. He moved to Paris shortly thereafter and made a name for himself as an artist. He painted the “Rose and Red: The Barber’s Shop, Lyme Regis” in 1895. 

World War I

Left image: Born Peyton Hedgeman, Palmer Hayden got both his name and his first artistic training from the U.S. Army, in which he served for almost 10 years. In 1911, he enlisted in the all-black Company A, 24th Infantry Regiment, and was deployed to the Philippines in the cartography unit. Second lieut. Arthur Boetscher gave him drawing lessons in their spare time. The story goes that a mispronunciation by a commanding officer led to his name change. When his first tour was up, he enlisted again, serving at West Point in the black detachment of the 10th Cavalry from 1914 to 1920. There, he took a correspondence drawing course, on which he spent most of his monthly income. After his army years, he worked numerous menial jobs while working on his art but eventually became well known as an artist. He painted the “The Wolf at Piermont New York in 1920.

Right image: Jean Dufy did his compulsory military service from 1910 to 1912 in a cavalry regiment. He was then drafted into the French army in 1914, during World War I, shortly after his first exhibition. He served as an ambulance driver, then trained in artillery. He painted in his quieter moments. He survived the war and recovered in Val-d’Ajol, in the Vosges region of France, before moving back to Paris. This painting, “Sacre Coeur,” shows a church on the hill of Montmartre, a bohemian district of Paris.

Spanish War

Pierre Daura served in the military twice, not including his work in a munitions factory during World War I, when he was too young to enlist. From 1917 to 1920, he served three years of compulsory Spanish military service on Menorca, then returned to Paris. In February 1937, he returned to his native country to fight against General Francisco Franco’s armies in the Spanish Civil War, serving as a forward artillery observer. He made many works of art that address that time, showing his fellow soldiers. He was seriously wounded on the Teruel Front in August 1937 and given a medical discharge. Because he refused to return to Spain after the war, his Spanish citizenship was revoked by the victorious Franco government. His painting, “Green Apples” was created in 1939.

World War II

Top left pic: Already well known as an artist for his New Deal murals, Howard Cook, the indomitable one, led the U.S. Army’s War Art Unit as part of the 43rd Infantry Division in the South Pacific during World War II for six months. He spent his name making drawings and paintings of soldiers and was treated the same as the other military men. His tour ended shortly after Congress voted to cut off funding for the unit.

Top right pic: Already known as an artist, Jacob Lawrence was drafted into the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. At first, he served in a segregated regiment, but in 1944, he joined the first racially integrated crew on the cutter Sea Cloud. He worked as an artist to document military life as he traveled to Europe with the crew. Lawrence made nearly 50 paintings during his service, but all were lost. He made this painting, “Children at Play” in 1947, and it showed his signature use of primary colors and flattened form.

Bottom pic: Born in Cairo, Egypt, O. Louis Guglielmi moved to the U.S. with his family in 1914. He was interested in and made art from a young age and became a naturalized citizen in 1927. He worked for the Federal Art Project during the Great Depression. This work, including his painting, “Tenements,” addresses the poverty that President Franklin Roosevelt tried to solve through government programs. During World War II, he served with the Army Corps of Engineers from 1943 to 1945.

Korean War


Born in New Orleans, Rolland Havre Golden was a sickly child, but his health improved and he left college after only one semester to join the U.S. Navy. He was then drafted to serve in the Korean War and spent four years in the service, mostly working in teletype. The GI Bill then paid for him to attend the John McCrady School of Art, in New Orleans. Golden said that his military service gave him “the toughness I needed to pursue art – to take setbacks without quitting. It was immensely important in my evolution as an artist, husband and father, and I can now say that being in the navy changed me from a boy to a man.” He made “The Farmer Whistle Stop Blues” in 1980.

Left pic: Robert von Sternberg’s Pasadena Rose Parade—1971

Right pic: Michael Stone’s 57 times 4—2013

REFERENCE: UGA Museum website

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