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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Charles Dana Gibson. The Last Ditch. Published in Life, March 22, 1917. Ink over graphite underdrawing. Gift of Charles D. Gibson, 1990. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (009.01.00)

Charles Dana Gibson Calls for Action

Striding across a war-torn landscape, Democracy pushes the figure of German militarism into Death's arms so forcefully that she disarms him, sending his sword and helmet flying. Artist Charles Dana Gibson boldly asserts his support for American intervention in World War I in this scene published two weeks before the country formally declared war on Germany. A far cry from the feminine ideal Gibson created earlier, his allegorical female figure references monumental forms of classical antiquity, the age that gave rise to democracy itself. This drawing stands out as particularly forceful among many Gibson created before and during the time he led the Division of Pictorial Publicity, a U.S. government body that recruited top illustrators to contribute to the nation's war effort.