The Art of Persuasion: American Propaganda Posters and the Great War

Exhibition Website

Jan 28 2017 - May 14 2017

Figge Art Museum

Davenport, IA

April 6, 2017, marks the centennial of the United States’ declaration of war on Germany and its entry into World War I. The Art of Persuasion exhibition explores how some of the most important artists and illustrators of the day supported the war effort. 

Prior to radio, newspaper ads and poster broadsides were the chief means of communicating ideas to the public. Posters, often placed in post offices, banks and businesses, played a key role in securing the country’s support for WWI. Focusing on the themes of liberty, patriotism and fear, artists created compelling imagery that inspired a reluctant country to not only support the war but also fund it

In particular, artists celebrated for their illustrations of flirtatious young women, such as Howard Chandler Christy, Harrison Fisher and James Montgomery Flagg, often created war posters featuring the same young women, seemingly asking men to “enlist” or to “buy bonds.” 

Posters designed by noted illustrators such as Edward Penfield, J.C. Leyendecker, and important women artists including Ethel Betts Bains, Jessie Willcox Smith and Maginel Wright Enright (Frank Lloyd Wright’s youngest sister), also feature prominently in The Art of Persuasion.

WWI artifacts from local collections, as well as examples of WWI items manufactured in the Quad Cities, will be on display.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

  • Works on Paper
  • American
  • 20th Century
  • Political / Satire / Documentary
  • Howard Chandler Christy
  • Harrison Fisher
  • James Montgomery Flagg
  • Edward Penfield
  • J.C. Leyendecker
  • Ethel Betts Bains
  • Jessie Willcox Smith
  • Maginel Wright Enright

Exhibition Venues & Dates