Thank you for your interest in my painting, “Duty, Honor, Country”. I
hope it conveys to you the emotion and significance of the moment that
was shared by everyone when General MacArthur gave his farewell address
to the Corps.
Creating a painting based on a historical moment presents two challenges
to the artist. First, the painting must be as true to the event as
possible, and second, it must be pleasing to the viewer. The first
challenge requires a considerable amount of research, the second
requires the ability to subtly modify certain aspects of the event so
they will fit into the boundaries of a canvas.
Research for the painting required a trip to the Army Academy at West
Point, the research library at West Point, the MacArthur Foundation in
Norfolk, Virginia, the National Archives and the Library of Congress in
Washington, DC. There is very little visual documentation of the
presentation of the Thayer Award itself and if it had not been for the
personal recordings of Cadet James Ellis and a few others there would
not have been a recording or complete text of the address.
A few professional photographs, some personal snapshots, now in the
collection of the MacArthur foundation, and a dark blurry black and
white 16mm film clip of the event exist, but not much else. Several good
photographs were taken right after the event and on the parade field,
but little documentation exists of the presentation itself.
The rostrum, large dual microphones, and MacArthur’s posture and suit
were documented in a front view professional close up photograph of the
General at the rostrum. The snapshots were used to identify the floral
arrangements and some of the participants at the two head tables,
particularly General William Westmoreland, Superintendent of the Academy
at the time, and General (Retired) Leslie R. Groves, President of the
Association of Graduates (seated with back toward the viewer).
The film clip revealed that General MacArthur spoke from a long raised
dais that was placed on the main floor in front of the main entrance and
below the Poop Deck in the Mess Hall. Mrs. MacArthur watched the General
give his address from the second flood deck which was above and behind
the dais. Another photograph documents that she and several other
guests, along with some cadets ate lunch in a room that adjoins the
second floor rostrum. Two tables for important guests were on either
side of the rostrum.
The cadets were seated at tables in the room. Moving the cadets forward
in the painting, closer to the rostrum, is an artistic liberty that I
had to take, otherwise the cadets would have become insignificant dots
in the background. Another photograph of General MacArthur was taken
nearby and it includes a close up of the General along with Cadets
Blumhardt (far left foreground in painting), James Ellis (center-chest
forward view), Kirchenbauer (forward, far right), and Grebe (middle
rear, fourth from left).
The ghosts represent a historical cross section of soldiers and are
dedicated to the memory of all military who have served our country. I
regret that I was unable to represent all the various types of personnel
who fought in our honor. From left to right: …World War Two Officer,
“D-day Normandy; Vietnam advisor; Captain, Korean War; General John
“Blackjack” Pershing; General Robert E. Lee; General George Patton;
World War One “doughboy”; and General Ulysses S. Grant. General Douglas
MacArthur is at the rostrum, General William Westmoreland lower right
corner, and General Groves is with his back to the viewer.
A few subtle things have been done to balance the color of the painting
and arrange the various elements. For example the ceiling light
chandeliers are accurate representations, however several were removed
from the painting so they would not appear in awkward locations. Some
pink color was added to the flowers, and cadet jacket gray was placed
throughout the ghost shadows to distribute and balance the color of the
overall painting. The microphones on the rostrum are accurate in design
but have been reduced in size so they will not dominate that part of the
painting. The ceiling, walls, and windows were based on research
sketches and photographs that I took at West Point.