Editors’ Note: For Veterans Day we asked Austen to select three relevant paintings from our permanent collection and tell us about them. Two of the works are not on view, but you can see the Childe Hassam on the third floor of Art of the Americas Building. And today’s holiday is a good day to do so, because general admission is free all day.
I thought of these paintings because they encapsulate a range of artistic responses on the part of American artists to the war efforts during World War I (1914-1918), and inspired art patronage in Los Angeles. These works also underscore the internationalism of war and its aftermath.
In the fall of 1918, the fourth and last of the Liberty Loan Drive fundraising parades was held in New York, and each block on Fifth Avenue from Twenty-Fourth to Fifty-Eighth streets was dedicated to the flags of a different Allied nation. Childe Hassam depicted that 1918 scene at the block devoted to Brazil and Belgium along what became known as the “Avenue of the Allies.”
Luks’s painting imagines the triumphant conclusion of the Czechoslovakian army’s march across Siberia in the drive for independence and to become an Allied Nation. Their success was celebrated on Czechoslovak Day, October 3, 1918, held during the Fourth Liberty Loan Drive Hassam painted. These two paintings were given to LACMA in the 1920s by William Preston Harrison, whose art bequests form the historic core of the LACMA’s American art collection.
The Mantle of Spring by Wendt was given to LACMA in 1921 by the Los Angeles District Federation of Women’s Clubs in “grateful tribute to the Boys of America who gave their lives and the Mothers who gave their Sons in the World War.” Wendt’s lush California spring landscape, when our state’s parched brown hills turn bright green during winter rains, is of course a poignant metaphor for rebirth and renewal after the devastation of war.
thanks for this post. but a question – why does this caption mention Czechoslovakia “George Benjamin Luks, Czechoslovakian Army Entering Vladivostok, Siberia, in 1918, 1918” when the flags in the painting are Polish flags? At that time Poland had been under occupation for more than a century, and only with the conclusion of WWI was Poland once more independent. But that doesn’t fully answer my question. Thoughts?
Thanks for your query. You’re right that the flag is not that of Czechoslovakia; the design for the newly independent nation was not then finalized but the flag Luks depicted was the flag carried by the Czechs in the October 1918 parade. As art historians Ilene Susan Fort and Michael Quick have noted, “Although the red-andwhite striped flag Luks delineated in the museum’s painting is not the design eventually selected for the national flag, it is the one depicted by Henry Rittenberg (1879-1969) in his painting of the Czech army that was carried down Fifth Avenue during the celebrations in October 1918.” If you click on the Luks painting above you will get to the essay on the painting in LACMA’s Collections Online.
Nice choice with the Wendt. What a beautiful, poetic representation! I think LACMA has two Wendts that about the same size aren’t they? Its interesting to see them hung side by side. Despite the similar period, color saturation and palette, they have a significantly different “glow”… and impact about them. The difference seemed, to me, to be due to one being properly cleaned and the other seemed much less clean. It sure made a difference in the readability and presentation.
At the blog http://www.tipsforfineartcollectors.org, issues of cleaning are often discussed.