"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Franklin D. Roosevelt

This c. 1944 poster for F.D.R. by James Montgomery Flagg is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
I Want You.

When James Montgomery Flagg drew his famous World War 1 “I Want You” recruiting poster, he turned to the mirror for his craggy image of Uncle Sam. Although inspired by the British image of a pointing Lord Kitchener, Flagg's version captured the public's imagination. Along with the stern features of the self-portrait, the foreshortened hand gesture forged a personal connection with the viewer.

A generation later, Flagg translated that familiar image into this presidential campaign piece promoting Franklin D. Roosevelt's unprecedented fourth term. The poster coyly avoids asking for votes, suggesting instead that America's duty was to convince the incumbent to run in order to “finish the job.” The poster was issued by the Independent Voters Committee of the Arts and Sciences for Roosevelt, founded in 1944 to promote a fourth term, with the expectation that the president could deliver both victory and a progressive peace settlement.

The Library of Congress has the 1917 poster that introduced Flagg's Uncle Sam and the catch phrase “I Want You.”

And lest we doubt that Flagg based Uncle Sam's stern look on himself, here's Flagg posing as Uncle Sam, surrounded by some of his famous posters.

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