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Item 404 - Mole and Thomas 'Living Photograph' of the U.S. Flag Catalog 580 (Apr 2020)

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Minimum Bid: $200.00
Sold Price: $250.00 (includes buyer's premium)


Patriotic and very rare vintage matte-finish 10.25 x 13.25 'living photograph' of an American flag with pole by Arthur Mole for Mayhart Studio, with a copyright caption below reading: "Great Lakes Recruit 1917, Navy Relief Society Distributors, Photo Mayhart Studio Chicago U.S.A.” Taken in 1917 at the Naval Training Station in Great Lakes, Illinois, this photo depicts a waving American flag that contains around 10,000 U.S. Navy sailors dressed in either white or navy blue uniforms. Matted and framed to an overall size of 14.5 x 18.5, with lower plaque reading: "'A Living Flag,' A living flag covering seven acres composed of ten thousand Blue Jackets under command of Captain W. A. Moffett, at the world's greatest Naval Training Station. Great Lakes, Illinois, November, 1917." In fine condition, with light silvering to the darker areas of the image.

According to the website The Public Domain Review: 'In search of some eye-catching imagery to boost morale surrounding US involvement in WWI, the US military commissioned the English-born photographer Arthur Mole and his assistant John Thomas to make a series of extraordinary group portraits. Between 1915 and 1921, with the dutiful help of thousands of servicemen and staff from various US military camps, the duo produced around thirty of the highly patriotic images, which Mole labeled 'living photographs.'

As one might imagine, the creation of each photograph was somewhat of a military exercise in itself, taking a week or more to prepare. Firstly, the desired image would be traced with wire onto a glass plate mounted to Mole's camera, which he would then take to the top of an 80 foot high viewing tower. Looking through the template, armed with a megaphone and large pointing stick, Mole would then oversee the laborious nailing down of miles and miles of lace edging, tracing out the pattern. The next stage was fairly straight forward, the servicemen would then simply need to fill the design.'

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