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US War Bonds poster of three small children under the shadow of a swastika

Object | Accession Number: 2014.407.1

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    Brief Narrative
    U.S. War Bond poster designed by Lawrence Beall Smith in 1942, after America's entry into World War II. It features three young children, apprehensive and fearful, as they are enveloped by the large, dark arm of a swastika shadow. The poster was distributed by the United StatesTreasury Department and implied that purchasing war bonds would keep the children safe from the Nazi threat. War bonds were offered by the United States Government for purchase by the public; purchasers would keep the bond and be reimbursed for its return at a later date. Purchasing bonds was considered patriotic and an investment in victory. U.S. posters tended to focus on patriotic themes and appeals to emotion to garner support. This poster was one in a series of war bond posters that resulted from a wartime partnership between Abbott Laboratories and the U.S.Treasury. Abbott Laboratories also recruited artists to document the work of the military branches during the war. Smith was one of more than two dozen artists sponsored by Abbott and hosted by the War Department to serve in battle as a combat artist. In 1943, Smith spent three months on aircraft carriers in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, creating works on naval aviation operations. In 1944, he was sent to England to document the Medical Corps’ work there. He volunteered to stay beyond his tour in order to witness the Normandy invasion in June. By the end of the war, 85 million Americans had purchased over $185 billion in war bonds.
    Artwork Title
    Don't Let That Shadow Touch Them
    publication/distribution:  1942
    manufacture: United States
    publication: United States
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
    front, bottom, printed, white and yellow ink : Don’t Let That Shadow Touch Them / Buy War Bonds
    front, bottom right corner, printed, white : [star] U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : 1942—O-462211 WSS 451
    front, bottom left corner within image, printed : LAWRENCE BEALL SMITH / 42
    Artist: Lawrence Beall Smith
    Subject: Lawrence Beall Smith
    Distributor: United States Department of Treasury
    Publisher: United States Government Printing Office
    Lawrence Beall Smith (1909-1995) was a painter, sculptor, lithographer and illustrator born in Washington DC. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and received a doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1931. Smith began exhibiting his work in 1935 and had a one man show at the Whitney Museum of Art in 1941. During World War II, Smith created posters for the war effort, many of them sponsored by pharmaceutical company, Abbott Laboratories. They worked with the U.S. government to support and document the war effort at home and abroad. The artists were selected by the American Academy of Artists in New York, hosted by the War Department and paid by Abbott. Smith was one of more than two dozen sponsored artists who went into battle as combat artists. In 1943, Smith spent three months on aircraft carriers in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean creating works based on naval aviation operations. In 1944, he was sent to England to document the Medical Corps’ work. He volunteered to stay beyond his tour in order to participate in and document the Normandy invasion in June. After the war, he continued painting and sculpting and became a respected lithographer, specializing in work featuring children, as well as an illustrator of books, such as Robin Hood and Tom Jones. Smith’s work was exhibited widely and is represented in several major institutions such as the Metropolitan in NY and Library of Congress.

    Physical Details

    War propaganda
    Physical Description
    Offset lithographic poster printed on medium weight paper, with an image of three small children being overtaken by the dark shadow of a swastika. The children, a girl and two boys, are together in a low cut, grassy field. The girl sits on a stone in front of the boys. She is wearing a red and white dress, her blonde hair is in pigtails and she is holding a doll in her left hand. Behind her, the taller boy has blond hair and is wearing brown pants with a yellow vest over a long sleeve, white-collared shirt. He holds a toy United States’ military plane in his right hand, and his left hand is pressed against the chest of the smaller boy standing next to him. The smaller boy wears a folded newspaper hat, a white-and-red-striped shirt and green shorts. In his hands is a makeshift wooden pole with a small American flag flying at the top. They are surrounded on three sides by the large, ominous arms of a swastika shadow. Below the image is a dark green banner with two lines of white and yellow text, and a small line of publication information in the bottom right corner. The poster has a horizontal crease in the center, and slight water stains and yellowing on the back.
    overall: Height: 20.000 inches (50.8 cm) | Width: 14.250 inches (36.195 cm)
    overall : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    United States.

    Administrative Notes

    The poster was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2014.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-28 07:27:32
    This page:

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