A haunting, iconic and important, large format painting by Cecil Calvert Beall created for an American World War II Army Air Forces poster titled Bomb’s Away!. The backing paper on this watercolor on board still houses the posed source photo, (likely taken by Beall himself) of his son Charles Beall, posed as a B-17G Flying Fortress pilot in full uniform seen in the middle of a daring air raid mission, behind enemy lines. Next to the photograph on the verso backing paper is a handwritten notation from another Beall family member, that mentions the artist’s son Charles died shortly after this painting was created during military duty in the Balkens.
We believe this to be the only WWII commissioned poster original artwork by C.C. Beall that has ever been on the market. A recent East Coast estate find, this painting was discovered in a sealed wooden crate in a house where it had been left undisturbed for over 40 years.
Cecil Calvert Beall was a prolific American illustrator whose works were regularly featured in magazines like the Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s.
The majority of Beall’s published works were done in watercolor, a medium in which he excelled. His art is crisp, bold, and dramatically composed, emphasizing both starkly iconic imagery and dramatically transparent movement, often in the same image. His images of beautiful women and elegant men in action-charged contemporary life were published in both black-and-white and color, always deftly exploiting the tonal range of a given reproduction technology. The artist was also active painting covers for many of the paperback publishing houses that appeared during the 1940’s, his cover painting for Ernest Hemmingway’s, A Farewell To Arms is shown below.
During World War II, Beall continued to produce a popular series of Collier’s cover illustrations depicting decorated World War II heroes, in addition to contributing war-related reportage. At the end of the war, he was one of the invited few aboard the U.S.S. Missouri to record the Japanese surrender ceremony. President Harry Truman chose Beall’s painting as the official painting of the event.
Beall was born in Saratoga, Wyoming, studied in New York at the Pratt Institute and Art Students League with George Bridgman. His early work was in a “bold poster style in watercolor marked by a strong pattern of light and shadow, which was favored by a number of illustrators” of the Collier’s magazine ‘school’.
Memberships included the American Water Color Society, Hudson Valley Art Association, Salmagundi Club and Society of Illustrators, which gave C. C. Beall an exhibition Award of Excellence in 1961.