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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

World War II Navy Art: A Vision of History

Albert K. Murray (1906-1992)

Commander, USNR

Upon graduating cum laude from the College of Fine Arts, Syracuse University, Murray, a native of Emporia, Kansas, continued his studies both in the United States and Europe. Already a well-known portrait painter before he was commissioned a Lieutenant with the Combat Art Section, his first assignment was to execute a series of portraits of the Navy's General Board, which were the first of his many now famous military portraits. Attached to the Fourth Fleet, South Atlantic, and then the Eighth Fleet, North African waters, he often sketched in the heat of battle. The Navy awarded him the Bronze Star for bravery.

After the war, Mr. Murray painted official portraits of Navy war heroes for the service and served as the director of the Navy Combat Art Collection and its Operation Palette, a series of Navy art shows that traveled throughout the country.

As a civilian, Murray also painted prominent civilians, among them Thomas J. Watson of I.B.M., the philanthropist Laurance S. Rockefeller, and Arthur Hays Sulzberger, former publisher of the New York Times. His work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of American Art, and the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Treasury, and Justice. He died in 1992.

 

Stephen Crane Hill
Albert K. Murray #39
Oil on canvas, 1943
29h" x 34 1/4w"
88-195-AP

 

A marine artillery look-out scans the approaches to Guantanamo Bay. From this commanding view all approaches by sea and air to the bay entrance are readily visible. It shows typical terrain of this southerly tip of Cuba with its majestic range of mountains rising from the sea. Across the entrance lies Leeward Point with its asphalt landing field.

 

Bourne Field, St. Thomas
Albert K. Murray #73
Oil on canvas, 1943
19 3/4h" x 23 3/4w"
88-195-BX

 

From a country road well up the green slopes rising from the flying field, the shore panorama of the marine side of the Navy Operating Base is visible. A flight of OS2N's circles the field on return from a mission. From the sea comes a destroyer and patrol craft and in the distance can be seen St. Croix.

 

The Navy Delivers
Albert K. Murray #100
Oil on canvas, 1944
34h" x 44w"
88-195-DA

 

After forty-eight hours of sweating toil, two crippled British warships are again fit for combat with the enemy. Not only are the needs of Navy ships, but also those of our allies are efficiently met in improvised shops like this far from the great naval bases of the world, including this Navy foundry operating at Receife, Brazil.

 

Mass on the Beach
Albert K. Murray #124
Oil on canvas, 1944
19 3/4h" x 23 3/4w"
88-195-DZ

 

Just prior to the invasion of Southern France, a small group of fighting men finds a makeshift altar on the hallowed sands of Salerno, Italy.

 

Bay of Naples
Albert K. Murray #178a
Watercolor, August 1944
24 1/4h" x 30 1/4w"
88-195-GD

 

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1 June 2001