And They Thought We Couldn’t Fight

Title And They Thought We Couldn’t Fight
Creator Clyde Forsythe
Date 1917
Format 30 x 40 in
Description Clyde Forsythe was a talented American artist recruited to produce propaganda for the Division of Pictorial Publicity, and in this poster, Forsythe’s talent for creating captivating landscapes is brilliantly displayed. The poster captures the exhilaration of victory as an American soldier beaming with excitement stands tall above the audience, carrying with him the visual evidence of heroism and conquest. The bandages on his arm and head, as well as the visible streaks of blood and dirt, help narrate a personal experience with war, one in which physical wounds are a small price to pay for victory. The viewer recognizes victory not only in the soldier’s expression, but also in his collection of three German helmets, war trophies to symbolize enemies killed. WWI propaganda was primarily promotional, and references to violence were rarely graphic, making the use of German helmets an ingenious strategy to imply violence without visualizing the grotesque nature of war. Next to the soldier is the text “AND THEY THOUGHT WE COULDN’T FIGHT,” which allows the image to stand as a visual response to the presumed verbal attacks from Germans regarding American resolve and masculine strength. The motif of victory is appropriate given that the poster is an advertisement for Victory Liberty Loans, which were offered following the completion of WWI as a means to pay off war debts and assist returning soldiers.
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