World War I illustrations of Delaware Public Archives

Eighteen original 100-year-old oil paintings by famed illustrators Frank E. Schoonover, Gayle Porter Hoskins and Albin Henning depicting scenes of World War I are currently on display at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — The Delaware Public Archives is giving visitors a chance for a look at a bygone era.

The Delaware National Guard’s American Illustration Collection, which opened earlier this month, features paintings by Delaware artists commissioned during World War I.

“The painters drew upon wartime news, eyewitness accounts, photographs and correspondence to inspire their paintings,” said Stephen M. Marz, director and state archivist of the Delaware Public Archives.

“Each painting tells a story about war, specifically World War I, war-weary people and the battle-scarred images.”

The collection is comprised of 18 original 100-year-old oil paintings by famed illustrators Frank E. Schoonover, Gayle Porter Hoskins and Albin Henning. These paintings were commissioned by Ladies Home Journal in 1918-19 and were used to illustrate key scenes of World War I.

Mr. Marz said the exhibit offers people a chance to see important moments surrounding World War I, but also give people a chance to gain and understand how rank-and-file soldiers participated in the war.

“Each painting illustrates historical scenes and the people of the war,” Mr. Marz said. “It includes the soldier, the victor, the vanquished, the displaced, a nation’s people, some prominent historic figures, including a king, a queen and a president and leaders of the Allied Forces.”

Pieces of artillery shells World War I soldiers made into pieces of art are also on display at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Mr. Marz said the idea to bring the exhibition to the Delaware Public Archives was due to the agency’s long partnership with the Delaware National Guard.

“Someone from our staff and the Delaware National Guard thought of the idea,” Mr. Marz said. “Once that happened, they presented the idea to Maj. Gen. Carol Timmons, the adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard and me.

“General Timmons was key in getting the paintings to Dover to be viewed by the public.”

Mr. Marz said getting the paintings over to the Delaware Public Archives was a seamless transition.

“Working with professional art movers from Washington D.C., the art was uninstalled at the Biden National Guard Reserve Center in New Castle, individually wrapped and protectively packed and transported to Dover,” Mr. Marz said.

Century-old paintings and magazines from World War I are on view at the Delaware Public Archives. The exhibit is free. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“The next day they were installed in the galleries of the Delaware Public Archives.”

Mr. Marz said the reception the illustrations have received have been great so far. The exhibition’s grand opening ceremony on Dec. 10.

“The ceremony was fantastic,” Mr. Marz said. “So many people were excited to see the exhibit. We had a great turnout. We had remarks from (future Adjutant) General (Michael) Berry, Secretary (of State Jeffrey) Bullock and Governor John Carney, and then we all adjourned to the galleries. Many people in attendance shared how much they enjoyed the stateliness of the event, and how incredible this collection is.”

The Delaware Public Archives is free and open to the public, and Mr. Marz said he hopes everyone gets a chance to view the exhibition.

“It is going to be around for a few years. We are delighted to share these images of history with all who visit us,” he said.

The Delaware Public Archives is at 121 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., North in Dover.

Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock, left, and Gov. John Carney look at one of the World War I paintings on display at the Delaware Public Archives during a grand opening ceremony on Dec. 10.

Arshon Howard is a freelance writer living in Dover. E-mail comments to newsroom@newszap.com.

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