Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

"War": Charles Dana Gibson's Femme Fatale

From the creator of the "Gibson Girl"—The portly gentleman is a caricatured portrayal of Kaiser William II, Emperor of Germany, in this imaginary tryst with a female friend labeled “War.” He recoils at discovering his “lady fair” is the embodiment of Death, as she beckons him to approach in all her grotesque, bejeweled splendor. Not only did Gibson lead the Division of Pictorial Publicity from 1917 to 1918, for which he recruited the country’s top illustrators to aid in building support for America’s war effort, he also drew anti-German political cartoons for Life magazine. Gibson’s title closely echoes a line from Rudyard Kipling’s 1897 poem called “The Vampire.”

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Source: Charles Dana Gibson (1866–1944). “And the Fool, He Called Her His Lady Fair,” 1917. Published in Life, May 3, 1917. Ink over graphite underdrawing. Gift of Charles D. Gibson and Kay Gibson, 2013. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

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