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

Saturday, September 30, 2023

The Few but Dramatic WWI Posters of Dan Smith

Click on Image to Enlarge

Dan Smith was an illustrator of remarkable talent and distinctive style, whose work from the 1890s through the early 1930s earned him widespread recognition. Yet, as well known and highly regarded as he was in his lifetime, he has since, like so many of the masterful practitioners from the Golden Age, become virtually forgotten. This may be due in large part to the circumstance that his greatest fame was in the ephemeral realm of newspaper illustration. I've been able to find only five of his pieces from the First World War, but I thought they are well worth sharing with our readers. (I've been unable to find a usable image of a sixth called Columbia, to Arms.)

While Smith created countless paintings, posters, book and magazine illustrations, and advertisements, he was most lauded for his decades of stunning covers for the Sunday supplements featured in many major papers of the day. In this arena he was a star, employed by both Hearst and Pulitzer, and syndicated across the country and around the world. But as photography supplanted illustration in the press, Smith’s work faded from memory. Yet, it was not entirely extinguished. A few artists, notably comic book great Al Williamson, along with fans of illustration fortunate enough to stumble across printed and original examples of his craft, kept a burning ember alive.

Source: The Norman Rockwell Museum Website


  1. These WW1 posters may seem like just posters, but they are significant pieces of American culture during world conflict. Recognizing Dan Smith's artwork gives a sense to the observer of the asthenic styles of the time, making them historical, where one may feel sorrow, patriotism, and resilience.