An epic and poignant large allegorical preparatory painting by Eugene Savage for the mural titled “Armistice,” which was created for and still resides in the front reception room at The Elks Veteran Memorial in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. At the opening reception in 1926, Arthur Correy, the then president of the National Society of Mural Painters, called these works the most important event in the history of American mural painting. Savage was awarded the Gold Medal of Honor in 1929 by the Architectural League of New York.
The Elks Veterans Memorial and Headquarters Building has been a Chicago landmark since its dedication on July 14, 1926. Designed by New York architect Egerton Swarthout, it is a grand piece of public architecture, functioning both as a moving memorial and a monumental headquarters for the time honored fraternal order. On site are sculptures by Adolph A. Weinman, James Earle Fraser and Fraser’s wife, Laura Gardin Fraser.
Eugene Savage and Edwin Blashfield were both hired by the Elks War Relief Commission to create murals rich with allegories of fraternity and patriotism, depicting the hardships and great losses suffered by mankind during the First World War which ended in 1918. This detailed and colorful watercolor study for the work “Armistice” shows the delirium of joy attending the return of peace time. Soldiers are shown in the lower right emerging from a trench, not yet realizing their release from its horrors. Other soldiers have lifted to their shoulders the framework of a belfry atop of which a French peasant girl is proudly seated. In the center as the dominant figure, is an aged Madonna, sorrowfully gazing upon the painted figure of Truth. Over the whole hovers a dove, emblematic of the peace to come(which was short lived), which is further indicated by a rainbow that frames the whole scene in the high background.
This large and important American patriotic treasure is beautifully framed and matted behind glass and signed lower center.