Friday, October 21, 2011

Camouflage Artist | Worden G. Wood

Rear Admiral John Lorimer Worden (1818-1897)

This is a wonderful photograph (detail) of USN Rear Admiral John Lorimer Worden, who commanded the ironclad USS Monitor during the American Civil War in its battle with the Merrimac (the CSS Virginia).

It's of interest here because Admiral Worden was the grandfather of marine painter and illustrator Worden G. Wood (1880-1943), who served as a camoufleur for the US Shipping Board (Emergency Fleet Corporation) during World War I.

Wood was born in Brooklyn, and attended school at Trinity School and Columbia University.  At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, he joined the US Naval Reserve and served aboard the Yankee clipper. Later, he also served under General John J. Pershing in his pursuit of Pancho Villa.

In April 1917, he was assigned to the US Navy, and appears to have contributed to the development of camouflage for American merchant ships. On July 31, 1918, he was assigned to the camouflage branch of the Delaware River District in Philadelphia, but (for reasons that are unclear) was reassigned back to New York just ten days later.

As an illustrator and art director, he worked for various book and newspaper publishers, including the MacMillan Company, the New York World, the New York Herald, and the Boston Herald (for which he wrote about yachting).  As a marine painter, he was frequently commissioned to make paintings of ocean liners and other ships by major shipping firms.

For further information, see "Worden Wood, Marine Artist, Illustrator Had Served on World Staff" in New York Times, November 21, 1943, p. 56. William Bell Clark on "Camouflage Painting on the Delaware" in Philadelphia in the World War 1914-1919. NY: Philadelphia War History Committee 1922 (pp. 318-322).