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A work made of lithograph on cream japanese paper, laid down on cream wove paper.

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  • A work made of lithograph on cream japanese paper, laid down on cream wove paper.




George Wesley Bellows
American, 1882-1925

About this artwork

In this scene, American realist painter George Bellows constructed a terrifying scenario of German World War I forces using naked civilians as human shields. Though he never saw war firsthand, Bellows’s engagement with the subject grew from documentary reports on the atrocities reported in the American press. Reportedly, this image and the one that accompanies it, Bacchanale, were both based on eyewitness accounts from the 1915 Bryce Report, which recorded hundreds of stories of the German invasion of Belgium in August 1914. The testimonies published in the Bryce Report’s 320-page Appendix A included some sensationalist accounts of mutilations and rapes for which there is no other evidence. The series War, which chronicled these crimes, consisted of 5 oil paintings, 20 lithographic prints, and more than 30 related drawings. In this image, the sharp Picklehauben helmets, heavy uniforms, and gleaming bayonet contrast with the soft vulnerability of exposed human flesh. The exaggeratedly large arms and hands of the victims, which are raised to the sky, call attention to their subjugation and acquiescence.


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Prints and Drawings


George Wesley Bellows




United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1918


Lithograph on cream Japanese paper, laid down on cream wove paper


Image: 43.4 × 74.2 cm (17 1/8 × 29 1/4 in.); Primary support: 47.9 × 78.7 cm (18 7/8 × 31 in.); Secondary support: 61.1 × 81.4 cm (24 1/16 × 32 1/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of William T. Cresmer

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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