US Army to Spend $600K on World War I Art

Woolf's painting of a scene during WWI. / Defense News
October 23, 2014

The U.S. Army has found a steal of a deal--or at least what said is a deal--on a group of World War I paintings. They have already been approved to spend $600,000 on the paintings, which will be a part of its large collection of art, Defense News reported.

On October 16, the Army filed an "unusual and compelling urgency" notice to pull funds to purchase 23 paintings by Samuel J. Woolf, an artist that was embedded with American forces in Europe during World War I. The service said its collection of World War I art is small. Paul McLeary of Defense News reports:

Almost all of the Army’s WWI artwork was sent to the Smithsonian Institution upon conclusion of the conflict, stripping the service of the majority of the original artwork it once owned depicting the US combat actions which claimed 116,000 American lives.

Most of the American-produced art that we have been handed down from the war come from the brushes of a group of artists who were commissioned as captains in the Corps of Engineers, and subsequently sent to Europe to record the fighting.

Woolf remains a rather obscure figure, even if his paintings have floated around between various collections over the decades.

But the last time Woolf paintings were available for sale was in 1992, making this opportunity to buy 23 of them one that the Army doesn’t want to miss. After researching auction records from Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses, the service claims in its justification document that only nine WWI paintings have been sold worldwide over the past 20 years.

The Army calls the paintings "one-of-a-kind historic documents" that are "the only known collection of this kind available at this time."


Published under: Army , Defense Budget