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War & Propaganda
24 persuasive images from World War I and World War II.

While most advertising posters implore action from their viewers, propaganda posters must incite a response with a sense of urgency and avoidable consequences. Whether designed for recruitment, conservation, patriotism, or women’s contributions, these images harness the power of emotion as well as the impetus of political action.

68. Treat 'Em Rough / Join the Tanks. 1918.
By August William Hutaf (1874-1942)
28 x 41 3/8 in./71.2 x 105 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

Known as “Black Tom,” the wildcat was the mascot of the newly formed tank corps in the US Army, led by Captain George S. Patton. He was certainly a ferocious little kitty!

72. Credito Italiano. 1917.
By Luciano Achille Mauzan (1883-1952)
39 1/4 x 55 in./99.7 x 139.7 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

So powerful was Mauzan’s first World War I poster for Credito Italiano loans (see PAI-LXXXV, 336) that the Italian government “did not hesitate to publish the poster representing the head of the soldier in gigantic proportions in order to display it on the most prestigious squares and monuments in the country” (Mauzan, p. 88). To see this face plastered throughout the streets, squares, and even theatres must have been a powerful act of intimidation. And for Mauzan, these two posters established his position as a leading poster artist of his time.

75. Gee!! I Wish I Were a Man. 1918.
By Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952)
26 7/8 x 41 in./68.2 x 104.2 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000

MoMA featured this world-famous Christy poster in its exhibition “Designing Modern Women 1890-1990,” which ran from October 2013-October 2014. They wrote of it, “In World War I, the front-line was not viewed as a place fit for a woman. While kept away from direct combat, however, women were a valuable asset in recruiting men to the navy. The winsome pin-up in ‘Gee!! I Wish I Were a Man’ (modeled by Mrs. E. LeRoy Finch) sports a fluttering naval uniform; the whole look and chatty tone was extremely effective in underscoring the masculine appeal of serving soldiers. Here was a woman worth fighting for. The poster was admired for its American ‘punch’ and ‘air of glad youth which came like a Spring wind over our war-weary spirits.'” This is a never-before-seen text variant that includes the Naval Reserve and Coast Guard as enlistment options.

76. I Want You for the U.S. Army. 1940.
By James Montgomery Flagg (1870-1960)
25 1/4 x 37 5/8 in./64 x 95.7 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

Flagg was already a successful and prolific illustrator by the time World War I started, but this poster was to become “his greatest public triumph.” Using himself as the model, his “rendering was originally used on a Leslie’s Magazine cover in late 1916, and was quickly adopted by the Army when the war broke out. All told nearly 5 million were printed in both world wars” (Theofiles, p. 9). This version, with “Enlist Now,” was printed in 1940.

77. Speed Up America.
By James Montgomery Flagg (1870-1960)
28 7/8 x 45 1/8 in./73.3 x 114.6 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000

As in his famous poster I Want You for U.S. Army (see previous lot), Flagg once again used himself as the model in this very rare image. The poster was originally titled “Wake Up America,” but perhaps because he had already created a poster with this title in 1917, Flagg opted to use “Speed Up America” instead. Rare!

86. Be the Woman Behind the Man. 1942.
By H. Macke
33 1/8 x 14 1/8 in./84 x 35.8 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500

Well, it’s not exactly an image of women’s empowerment, but this World War II poster does attempt to exemplify the importance of female involvement in the form of purchasing war savings stamps. Rare!

88. Danse Caucasienne. 1951.
23 1/2 x 31 3/4 in./59.7 x 80.5 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500

“This political poster… exposes the perceived threat to France from the French Communist Party. The caricature of Stalin as a Russian dancer drops knives into a series of bloodied white ovals. These ovals represent nations that have adopted Communist regimes: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, the Baltic States, Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany and China. The message is that France is poised to be the next country destroyed by Communism. The four figures playing balalaikas, Russian folk music instruments, are Marcel Cachin, Jacques Duclos, André Marty and Maurice Thorez, then leaders of the French Communist Party” (V&A website).

View all War & Propaganda posters
The live auction begins July 18 at 11am EDT
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In-gallery viewing June 29 – July 17 (11am-6pm daily)

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