Saturday, November 3, 2012

Philadelphia Ship Camouflage Artists

Philadelphia ship camoufleurs (c1918)
Above This photograph was published in an essay by William Bell Clark, titled "Camouflage Painting on the Delaware."• It is an artfully posed group portrait of some of the Delaware River-area artists who contributed to ship camouflage during World War I. The people are positioned to look as if they are studying the colored lithographic camouflage plans (sent out by the US Navy from Washington DC), while others are applying dazzle camouflage schemes to wooden ship models, or discussing the appearance of already painted models. I am not familiar with many of the Philadelphia artists from that era, but I have identified two of them: Arthur B. Carles ( the father-in-law of graphic designer Herbert Matter) is standing on the right, with black hair and beard, smoking a cigarette, while, directly below him, seated in the front, smoking a pipe, is Frank Vining Smith. Someone else who is well-acquainted with that era and region of the country might be able to name the rest.

In the same article, there is a list of some of the artists who camouflaged merchant ships for the Navy and the US Shipping Board. It may be that someone will be able to match the names with the men who are shown in the photo. Here are the names (in no particular order): Paul [Bernard] King, Harold E. Austin, Frank V[ining] Smith, George W[arren Lawlor, Albert Rosenthal, Oscar de Clerk, Earl Selfridge, George McLaughlin, Harry W. Moore, Fred J. Thompson, Wilson V. Chambers, Ralph P[allen] Coleman, Franklin C. Watkins, Leo Kernan, Hamilton D. Ware, Worden [G.] Wood, Robert D[avid] Gauley, Mitchel R. Buck, and Arthur B[eecher] Carles [Jr.] (I believe he is the dark-haired bearded man standing in front of the painting on the far right, smoking a cigarette). Henry C. Grover (whom we talked about in the previous post) is also mentioned as Manager of the Camouflage Department. Twenty names are listed in the article, while there are thirteen people in the photograph. (Other possibilities are Adolphe Borie, Jean Knox, Waldo Peirce and Carroll Tyson.) Does anyone recognize them?

Clark's essay was first published in Philadelphia in the World War 1914-1919. NY: Philadelphia War History Committee, 1922, pp. 318-322. It has since been reprinted in SHIP SHAPE: A Dazzle Camouflage Sourcebook (2012).