Sunday, April 10, 2011

French Camoufleurs in Huge Diorama

Panthéon de la Guerre (1918), detail

From Roy R. Behrens, Camoupedia: A Compendium of Research on Art, Architecture and Camouflage (2009), p. 279—

In 1916, seventeen French artists collaborated on a huge circular diorama, as a tribute to the heroes on the Allied side of World War I. Called the Panthéon de la Guerre, it contained about five thousand full-length figures, with a circular expanse of four hundred feet. It was completed in 1918, and displayed in a custom-made building until 1927. As documented in Mark Levitch, Panthéon de la Guerre (2006), of relevance to camouflage is the fact that among those depicted on its “staircase of heroes” are a handful of identifiable World War I French camoufleurs. In 1927, the panorama was sold to US businessmen and shipped in a ten-ton crate to New York, where it was displayed at Madison Square Garden and at subsequent expositions. In 1956, it was donated to the Liberty Memorial [now the National WWI Museum] in Kansas City MO, where, two years later, selected sections were cut up and reassembled [by Missouri artist and camoufleur, (Leroy) Daniel MacMorris] to make a smaller mural, only sixty-nine feet wide.