War Clouds Gather

Title War Clouds Gather
Creator Hazel Roberts
Date 1917
Format 20 x 25 in
Description The poster “WAR CLOUDS GATHER!” might not initially stand out to contemporary viewers as particularly noteworthy, but it is unique among images in this collection. The poster is exceedingly rare as it is one of the few created by a female artist. Hazel Roberts’s poster for the Navy League, a civilian organization dedicated to supporting the U.S. Navy, was published in 1917, and based on the tone of the content, the image may be part of the preparedness movement that took place before the U.S. officially entered the conflict. The image depicts a white, male bugler dressed in a blue uniform, staring resolutely into a distant horizon that is darkly shaded. The ominous color on the borders of the frame, along with the edge of an American flag on the right side of the image, serve as a visual complement for the verbal metaphor presented in the text below that “WAR CLOUDS” are gathering. In the face of the coming storm, a clear reference to the violence overseas, the sailor’s erect posture communicates masculine strength and confidence. The perspective places the viewer behind the sailor, which results in one of the only WWI posters in which the subject’s back is turned on the audience. Although ambiguity exists, the text stating “‘MANHOOD WILLING BUT UNARMED’” suggests that while the young man has courage and strength, he is in need of supplies and domestic support.
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