Lot #559
Mole and Thomas 'Living Photograph' of Woodrow Wilson

'Living photograph' of President Wilson, comprised of 21,000 U.S. troops

This lot has closed

Estimate: $400+


'Living photograph' of President Wilson, comprised of 21,000 U.S. troops

Terrific and very rare vintage matte-finish 10 x 12.5 'living photograph' of President Woodrow Wilson by Mole & Thomas, with lower left bearing a facsimile signature and photo description: "21,000 Officers and Men, Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio, Brig. Gen. Mathew C. Smith, Commanding." A copyright caption below reads: "international Copyright, 1918, Mole & Thomas, 915 Medinah Bldg., Chicago, Ill." Matted and framed to an overall size of 18 x 22. In very good to fine condition, with a crease touching the bridge of Wilson's nose, a tear to bottom edge, and 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.'

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: #580 - Ended April 08, 2020