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

Monday, May 20, 2024

The Striking Black-and-White Lithographs of War Artist George Harding

Artist George Harding

Capt. George Harding (1882–1959) was one of the eight official artists appointed by the United States War Department. He was a Philadelphia-born artist and architect. Before becoming a full-time artist and writer, Harding worked briefly as an architect while studying art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He contributed illustrations to The Saturday Evening Post and Harper’s Monthly, taught briefly at the University of Pennsylvania and Moore College of Art, and established his own studio. In addition Harding painted mural decorations for theaters, hotels, and other civic projects.

These images—displayed at width=580px—can be viewed at width=1000px by clicking on them.

Between Shells at Chateau Thierry

American Troops Entering a Village in Pursuit of the Enemy during the Advance across the Marne, July 13, 1918

American gun fire, early morning

As a war artist, Harding was particularly intrigued by the new technologies of war. His war pictures are full of guns, airplanes, motorcycles, trucks, and tanks. He returned to America in February 1919 and before the end of the year published a lavish portfolio of his war art, The American Expeditionary Forces in Action. In 1922, Harding became the head of the department of illustration at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, remaining at the school until his retirement in 1958.

Night Patrol, No Man's Land

Mopping Up, Argonne, October 1918

Searching Germans Just Captured

Harding was the only AEF artist to serve in both World Wars. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, Harding become a 60-year-old Marine captain. He painted the Marine landings on Bougainville, New Georgia, Guam, and elsewhere. Ninety-two of his combat sketches were publicly displayed even before the war ended.  

Machine Gunners, Argonne

Going Through Gas

Château-Thierry Refugees, May 31, 1918

Sources: Smithsonian;  Villanova University Library; U.S. Army Art Collection


  1. Magnificent work! Thanks for educating us on it.

  2. Very realistic and dramatic, beautiful in a sad way. I