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World War II Navy Art: A Vision of History

Mitchell Jamieson (1915-1976)

Lieutenant, USNR

One of the country's foremost watercolor artists, Jamieson was born in Kensington, Maryland, and attended the Abbott School of Fine and Commercial Arts and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. Having already established himself with many noted commissions, he began his duty in 1942 as an official combat artist depicting the Navy and its many operations from the North African campaigns to the South Pacific. During the war the Navy awarded him the Bronze Star. His combat paintings were reproduced extensively in Life, Fortune and other national publications.

Jamieson said of his Navy combat art experience "I have confined my paintings to what I have experienced and know to be strictly true, at the same time having to adapt my way of working to the pressure of time and swift-moving events. Yet anything that is worthwhile or that has the bite of reality in the work produced under these circumstances probably derives from a constant effort to share as fully as possible in the lives and experiences of others". Twice awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Award of Merit by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Jamieson died in 1976.


Invasion Craft -- Sicily
Mitchell Jamieson #177
Oil on canvas, 1943
44h" x 34 3/4w"



Grim, stark reality and the enemy lie ahead for these steel-helmeted men as they are huddled closely together inside an invasion craft bound for the beach at Sicily.


Forward Elevator
Mitchell Jamieson #187
Watercolor, 1943
30 1/2h" x 38 1/2w"


A TBF (Torpedo Bomber) is brought up on the forward elevator in preparation for a night take-off. Two TBFs were especially equipped for all night patrols and part of the squadron personnel trained in this new anti-sub tactic. The flights last from 9 to 12 hours, the two planes returning at dawn and landing just after the regular morning flight has taken off.


Red Beach at Gela -- 1700, July 10
Mitchell Jamieson #201
Oil on canvas, 1943
30 1/2h" x 44 1/4w"


Late afternoon of D-Day at Gela, Sicily, troops make their way inland over the dunes in unending procession, while an LST, hit a short while earlier, burns fiercely offshore. Wounded are being brought back to the beach to be evacuated aboard the transports. An anti-aircraft position is seen atop the largest dunes and other forces maintaining the beach itself are digging in for the first night on Sicilian soil.


On the Fantail
Mitchell Jamieson #279
Oil on board, 1943
31h" x 40w"


Sailors play poker on the fantail of the "Lizzie" Stanton, while anchored off Algiers waiting to get underway for Sicily.


The Beach at Dusk
Mitchell Jamieson #321
Watercolor and crayon, June 1945
30 1/2h" x 38 1/2w"


As darkness closes in at Iwo, the tragic section of beach below Suribachi becomes unearthly and ghostlike in the fading light. The beach is deserted except for the wrecks, which litter its entire length, rusted and partially buried in the sand.


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1 June 2001