Motherless Fatherless Starving

Title Motherless Fatherless Starving
Creator Authur Crisp
Date 1917
Format 20.5 x 27.5 in
Description Arthur Crisp’s propaganda poster dramatizes the suffering of French children in order to persuade viewers to support the humanitarian efforts of the Red Cross. The poster features a Red Cross nurse standing among a sea of young children and a kneeling mother as flames engulf buildings in the dark background. Two raised French flags on the left side of the image help establish the location, and the noticeable bandages, crutches, and terrified expressions of the children work to communicate the devastating effects of war on the innocent. Cloaked in white, the nurse shines through the darkness like a beacon, an angel of mercy so pained by the sight that she must close her eyes. The religious connotation of the image is solidified by the mother who is positioned closest to the viewer. She kneels with arms extended as if in prayer, but she instead hands an infant child to the nurse. The nurse and helpless mother are the only two adults present, a potentially unexpected sight that is explained by the blue, capitalized text that reads “MOTHERLESS FATHERLESS STARVING.” Crisp goes to great lengths to evoke sympathy, and even pity, in the viewer. As the poster emotionally impacts the audience through the suffering of children, it provides a clear response to its own question “HOW MUCH to save these little lives?” by directing viewers to contribute to the goal of raising one-hundred million dollars between May 20th and May 27th.
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