Lest Liberty Perish
Joseph Pennell (1857-1926)
Lest Liberty Perish from the
Face of the Earth
Watercolor sketch for poster, 1918
Prints & Photographs
Joseph Pennell bequest, ca. 1937 (3.12)
The Division of Pictorial Publicity was part of the Committee on
Public Information, America's central propaganda agency during World
War I. Painters and illustrators were urged by director Charles
Dana Gibson, eminent illustrator of the Gilded Age, to contribute
their work to build support for the war at home and to defray the
enormous costs of troops and equipment by enlisting subscribers.
Ultimately 700 poster designs were produced. For the Fourth Liberty
Loan Drive of 1918, printmaker Joseph Pennell conjured up this image
of New York City "bombed, shot down, burning, blown up by an enemy."
Because the aircraft of the day were unable to cross the Atlantic,
Pennell's scenario was implausible; but his design was unanimously
accepted and mass produced.