Lest I Perish

Title Lest I Perish
Creator C. R. Macauley
Date 1917
Format 20 x 30 in
Description Charles R. Macauley’s poster is reminiscent of several images that feature symbolic figures pointing at the viewer to grab attention and compel financial donations for the war effort. In this instance, Macauley depicts a personified Lady Liberty looking down upon the viewer with the dire warning to purchase Liberty Bonds or she, and the freedom she embodies, will perish. Most posters that incorporate Lady Liberty or Columbia draw on stereotypical representations of women as sexual objects or damsels; however, Macauley’s image is unique insofar that Lady Liberty is shown as an assertive, even intimidating, force. Her stern facial features, towering presence, and gesture work to scold the audience into acquiescence. In her left hand she embraces her familiar torch; however, the tabula ansata that is normally in her left hand is nowhere to be seen. At the bottom of the poster are two circular logos, each with the Statue of Liberty surrounded by the text, “GET BEHIND THE GOVERNMENT.” While these might appear as little more than simple ornaments for the poster, they in fact are illustrations of the buttons given to purchasers of Liberty Loans.
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