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Price of Victory

Published onJan 28, 2022
Price of Victory

Christian Petersen (Danish-American, 1885-1961)

Price of Victory (Fallen Soldier), 1944

Painted plaster

Gift of Mary Petersen.  In the Christian Petersen Art Collection, Christian Petersen Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University.  UM99.297


As World War II went on, American casualties mounted, and the Iowa State Daily Student often had to report the wounding and death of many former students. In Price of Victory, Petersen depicted a dreadful reality for many Americans: the death in combat of one of our soldiers. It is possible that Petersen was responding to the terrible carnage of D-Day, when Allied forces landed on French beaches at Normandy on June 6, 1944, to take back a Europe conquered and occupied by the Nazis.

His earlier war sculpture, Men of Two Wars, was displayed on campus throughout most of World War II, but when Price of Victory was exhibited, many observers found it so upsetting that it was removed from view.  Petersen responded by affirming that this action, far from offending him, was a testament to the power of the work; it was, he declared, the finest compliment ever given to his sculpture.  Price of Victory remained in his studio and then in storage until students requested that it again be displayed during the Vietnam War.


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