Thursday, January 21, 2016

Some Albert Herter Murals

Albert Herter (1871-1950) was an artist who is best remembered (for those few who are even aware of him) as a painter of portraits and murals. His mature style was traditional, with just the slightest whiff of the cautious modernist-inspired simplification fashionable amongst conservative painters during the first four decades of the 20th century.

Herter's Wikipedia entry is here. If you read it carefully, you will find that his son Christian became governor of Massachusetts and later Secretary of State of the United States. The latter position was reached under Eisenhower shortly before the death of the previous Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles.

I plan to post more about Herter's work, but begin here with two of his murals (click on the images to enlarge).

Le départ des poilus, aout 1914 - 1926
This large mural is in Paris' gare de l'Est railroad terminal, and due to ignorance of it, I've never seen it. That's because I normally use the nearby gare du Nord when entering or leaving Paris by train.

Background regarding the mural, which Herter donated to France in memory of his son Everit who died fighting in the Great War, can be found here, here and here.

The scene depicts French army reservists called to the colors during mobilization at the start of the war. Under Joseph Joffre's Plan XVII, the main German offensive was expected along France's eastern borders, and that was where most of the mobilizing troops were sent during the first few weeks of August 1914. The soldiers are being seen off by family and friends.

The third link above mentions that the man in the white shirt raising his arms is Everit Herter. His mother is the women at the far left with her hands clutched. The bearded man at the right holding flowers is Herter himself.

Signing of the Magna Carta - 1915
This is one of four murals by Herter completed in 1915 for the Wisconsin State Capitol Building. Background on these murals is here. Due to their setting, these murals are composed is a formal, essentially symmetrical fashion.

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