Saturday, November 28, 2015

German Ship Camouflage (Tarnung)

Camouflaged WWII German minesweeper
Above (and below) photographs of disruptively patterned WWII German ships (called Sperrbrecher) used for detecting enemy mines or minesweeping (c1941). One often hears that disruptive ship camouflage was all but phased out in WWII, or that the patterns were more restrained than previously, but some German ships (such as minesweepers) were conspicuous deviations from that. Comparable examples can also be found in German WWI ship camouflage.


Anon, CAMOUFLAGED SHIP AND FREIGHTER COME CLOSE TO COLLIDING IN RIVER, in The Republican-Journal (Ogdensburg NY), August 23, 1918, p. 8—

A camouflaged ship, en route eastward on the St Lawrence River, and a large freighter bound westward, narrowly escaped collision near Brockville [NY] about 6 o'clock Tuesday evening. The proper signals were sounded, it is stated, but for some unknown reason they were misunderstood.


Anon, CAMOUFLAGE WOULD SAVE SHIP, in The Pulaski Democrat (Pulaski NY), September 17, 1919, p. 6—

A submarine can spot a ship five miles away, estimate its course, submerge and later intercept it. But this ship might have a keel painted fifty feet down its side and the actual keel blocked out. This would give it the appearance of traveling in a course that was quite off the actual course. The calculations of the submarine would be quite wrong and the ship would not be intercepted at all. It would be saved by the deception of its camouflage.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Milwaukee Art Museum Camouflage

Panoramic lithograph (detail) of Milwaukee WI (1898)
Above A detail of a panoramic view of downtown Milwaukee WI (East Water Street looking south), published in 1898 by the Gugler Lithographic Company. The Guglers played a prominent role in commercial printing in Milwaukee. The firm's founder's son, Julius Gugler, was the father of artist Frida Gugler (1874-1966), who studied with William Merrit Chase, and designer-architect Eric Gugler, who actively contributed to World War I ship camouflage. We discussed all this in an earlier post, but more recently have run across the following excerpt from an article by Dudley C. Watson, titled PASTOR SHOWS TALENT IN THE FIELD OF ART in The Milwaukee Journal (Sunday, June 9, 1918), p. 3—

The artists of Wisconsin were invited to meet at the [Milwaukee Art] institute Wednesday night [on June 5, 1918] to form a Wisconsin committee of the division of pictorial publicity…

Among the artists who were present at the Wednesday meeting were Frida Gugler, Alice Miller, Emily Groom, Julia Allen, Mabel Key, Raymond Sellzner, Armin Hansen, Gaetano Busalacchi, Irvin Kramer, Roland Tiemann, Hans Saltenberg, F.W. Heine, D[udley] C[rafts] Watson, Francesco Spicuzza, Carl Holty, and A.F. Brasz, Oshkosh.

It has been suggested that the local committee might work out some experiments in ship camouflage, providing an old hull could be procured and placed out in the basin of our [Lake Michigan] harbor. Ship camouflage is still in its infancy and who knows but our Wisconsin artists might discover or invent something that would save hundreds of lives. At the meeting on Thursday it is hoped that some way to obscure the hull will be revealed…

Dudley Crafts Watson (1885-1972) was the (first) director of the Milwaukee Art Institute (later called the Milwaukee Art Society, and now the Milwaukee Art Museum), serving from 1913-1924. He was related to filmmaker Orson Welles (who had been born in Kenosha), and became Welles' guardian after the deaths of his parents. After leaving Milwaukee, Watson was associated with the Art Institute of Chicago as an official lecturer.

Note See also earlier post about Milwaukee artist and WWII camoufleur Edward Morton.

Ship Camouflage | Why Sailors Hate Paint

WWI camouflaged British merchant ship
Above (top) Port and (bottom) starboard views of the SS Hunnie, a dazzle-camouflaged World War I British merchant ship (c1918). The original photographs, made by Allan C. Green, are in the collection of the Victoria State Library AU.


Day Russell, SAILORS HATE PAINT (short story) in The Sydney Morning Herald (April 23, 1946), p. 10—

“It’s like this,” began the sailor, “The old tub, she’s one of these passenger ships in peace time and they converts her to a troopship. Have you ever stopped to think how much paint it takes to cover the sides of one of them ships? No, you ‘aven’t. Well, some blokes had to fight their way through the war, and it seems that my pal Nobby and me had to paint our way through it. We did nothink but hang like flies on the side of a skyscraper, sitting on a bit of a plank with a bucket of paint and brush staring at them great walls of old iron; iron to the right of you, iron to the left of you, iron all round you, till if you’re a soft-skinned bloke like Nobby, it gets into your soul, if you understand me.

We gets aboard ‘er, Nobby and me, and the first thing that ‘appens is all ‘ands paint ship. That seems to take fifty years and then there comes an order which says there’s to be a new kind of camouflage and so it’s paint ship again, and by the time we gets that done we don’t know whether it’s us or the ship that’s cross-eyed, or whether we’re coming or going…

[Later, in another port] there comes along some admiral who doesn’t like the look of our camouflage and ‘e wants a few touches here and there to make us look like we was three ships and not one, so Nobby and me ‘as to go over the side again for a couple of weeks.… 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Architects and Camouflage | Roy C. Jones

Architect and camoufleur Roy C. Jones
Above Portrait photograph of American architect Roy Childs Jones (1885-1963), who was for many years the head of the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota. During World War I, he also served in the US Army's Camouflage Corps.


In Aymar Embury II, "Architects and the Camouflage Service" in Architectural Forum 27 (November 1919), pp. 137-138, Jones is among those included in a list of architects who had served in the war as camouflage specialists. Embury, himself a prominent architect, was a captain in the Corps of Engineers, United States Reserves [in the list that follows, those in brackets were not per se on Embury's list]—

G.F. Axt, Charles F. Brunckhorst, Cromwell H. Case, Robert A. Clifford, Walter C. Clifford, David C. Comstock, G. Dexter, John H. Eastman, W[illiam] D. Foster, S.N. Hartell, Everit A. Herter, [Laurance Hitt], Burnham Hoyt, Clifford C. Jones, Roy C. Jones, Oliver Larson, Fred R. Lorenz, Alexander MacLean, [Wilmer] Bruce Rabenold, Thomas I. Raguere, Abraham Rattner, Greville Rickard, Reah de Bourg Robinson, [Louis C. Rosenberg], Prentice Sanger, Thomas E. Seyster, [J. André Smith], V.P. Spalding, [Evarts Tracy], Sheldon Viele, Louis F. Voorhees, Ralph T. Walker, Austin Whittlesey, James R. Wilson, and Van Horne D. Wolfe.


According to other online sources, Roy C. Jones was born in Kendallville IN on June 22, 1885. He attended Purdue University, then earned a BS degree and a Masters in Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to WWI, he worked at Holabird and Roche (Chicago) and McKim, Mead and White (New York). He also taught architecture at the University of Illinois and the University of Minnesota. It was during WWI that Jones served as an army camoufleur in France (not WWII, as was incorrectly claimed in a university senate obituary when he died).

After the war, Jones returned to the faculty of the University of Minnesota, where he was appointed head of the School of Architecture in 1937. He continued to practice architecture, and served as the university's advisor for building design from 1936 to 1950.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Camouflage Artist | Charles Hafner

Charles Hafner, Peter Pan (1928)
Above Sculpture by Charles Hafner of literary character Peter Pan, originally made in 1928 for a fountain in the lobby of the Paramount Theatre in Times Square in New York. In 1975, it was given to the City of New York, and installed in an outdoor garden site in Carl Schurz Park. In 1999, it was vandalized and stolen, then soon after found to have been dumped into the East River. It was restored and reinstalled.


The artist Charles Andrew Hafner was born in Omaha NE on October 28, 1888. He studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Students League in NY, and the Beaux Arts Institute of Design in Paris. As a student he worked as an assistant to Daniel Chester French, and may also have been influenced by James Earle Fraser and Solon Borglum (whose brother Gutzon Borglum created the US presidents' busts at Mount Rushmore).

In 1918, Hafner served as a ship camouflage artist in the Third Naval District in New York, in the course of which he probably worked with muralist William Andrew Mackay. At the end of the war, the following social note appeared in Art News

Charles Haffner, the sculptor who was working in the Camouflage Department for the Government, has returned to New York and has taken a studio in the Holbein [Studios at 154 West 55th Street in Manhattan] ] where he is modeling portraits and figure compositions.

According to Who Was Who in America, Hafner was a founding member of the American Veterans Society of Artists, a sculpture instructor, and was best-known for his portrait busts of Thomas Edison, Daniel Carter Beard, Maude Adams and Richard Strauss. He died In New York on July 29, 1960.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Camouflage in Meat Packing in 1919

Cartoon by Bart O. Foss (1919)
Above A cartoon by Bart O. Foss, titled CAMOUFLAGE—A PACKER ADAPTATION, published in The Nonpartisan Leader (St Paul MN), February 24, 1919, p. 1. The text beneath the drawing reads—

Among the things war has developed is the art of camouflage. It is a very handy weapon for special interests. Cartoonist [Bart O.] Foss here gives a graphic illustration of how the packers have seized on the method to deceive the public. The cleverest means that money can secure are used to make the people believe that there is competition between the big packers, while behind the camouflage they chuckle to themselves on their cuteness and merrily arrange the markets in their own interests. But if the war has developed camouflage it has at the same time made the people aware of it as never before. The farmers of the Northwest have become expert camouflage detectors. They all see "around the corner" of those packer ads, and yet those ads are the last word in camouflage.

Camouflage Artists | Kimon Nicolaides and Mark Reed

WWI British camouflaged artillery
In a blog post several years ago, we mentioned that American artist and teacher Kimon Nicolaides (1891-1938), primarily known as the author of a famous drawing textbook, The Natural Way to Draw (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1941), was also an American Army camoufleur during World War I. He taught what is commonly called "contour drawing." More recently, we've run across a newspaper article by Amy MacMaster, titled HE BECAME AN ARTIST IN SPITE OF OPPOSITION, from the Brooklyn Eagle Magazine (Sunday, March 23, 1930), which includes a substantial discussion of his service as a camoufleur.

Nicolaides' father was a Greek importer; his mother was Irish. According to the article—

To the Greek side of him may, no doubt, be ascribed his artistic inclinations; to the Irish side, his great love of boxing.

Despite his father's objections, he ended up studying art at the National Academy of Design, the Corcoran School, the Philadelphia Academy, and the NYC Art Students' League. Interestingly, he showed his early drawings to comic artist Winsor McCay at the New York World, who found him a position at a vaudeville booking company. Soon after came World War I, which the article recalls in the following way—

When the war came, he enlisted, in spite of his strong opposition to war. He applied for admission to the Aviation Corps, but heard of the forming of the Camouflage Corps, and went into that. He covered three-inch guns to protect them from airplane observation.

He was sent to France and connected with the Field Artillery. He spent much time in one small town, Bar-sur-Aube, on the River Aube, and came to love the French country scenes. 

An important part of the work of the Camouflage Corps was in teaching the American soldiers and officers the importance of simple camouflage maneuvers. For example, the making of paths on green fields meant the drawings of white lines for the eye of the aviator; the desisting from the making of paths amounted to camouflage.

Mr. Nicolaides, as a private, was put in charge of the camouflage disciplining of a whole battery. As the word camouflage acquired a frivolous connotation early in the war, however, his task was not an easy one.

The article goes on to say that Nicolaides became friends with an American architect and playwright named Mark Reed (1890-1969), most likely while still in France, since both served in the Camouflage Corps. Returning to the US after the war, Nicolaides and Reed "rode the rails" in search of adventure. Originally intended as a cross-country (even worldwide) excursion, it was short-lived because of Reed's sudden, surprising success as a New York playwright.

Originally from Chelmsford MA, Reed had played football at Dartmouth, studied architecture at MIT, then took up playwrighting at Harvard. For a time, he was even the editor of the Women's Journal, a major women's rights periodical.

While researching Reed's camouflage service, we came across an online article about his wife, Virginia Reed (née Virginia Belding), a one-time prominent model (as a model for advertising artists, she had posed for Maud Humphrey (mother of actor Humphrey Bogart), James Montgomery Flagg, Arthur William Brown, and others). Titled THE LADY ON THE SIXTH FLOOR, the article was written by Edward Bliss for the Lifestyle Section of the Washington Post (January 22, 1995). According to the article—

He [Mark Reed] had written only one play before America's entry in the First World War. He enlisted in the Army, which, hearing he had painted scenery for plays, sent him overseas to design camouflage for its big guns.

Virginia (Belding) Reed was born in Des Moines IA, but grew up in Manhattan. She and Mark Reed were married about 1940. The article tells the story of how their marriage came about, at a time when he was living in New York while she was in Florida. She recalls—

He sent me a telegram saying, "Meet me at the high school in Clinton." That's Clinton, Iowa!…He'd never been to Clinton, and neither had I.…trying to choose a place to meet, he just poked the road map and hit Clinton. He knew it had a high school, every town did—and picked it as a place to meet.

So she drove to the Clinton IA high school from Florida—

…in my ramshackle Chevy…and he drove up in his Buick.…We were married in Dubuque. We found the courthouse, and a judge married us with two janitors as our witnesses.

They were happily married for 29 years.