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Model for War Memorial

Published onJan 28, 2022
Model for War Memorial

Christian Petersen (Danish-American, 1885-1961)

Model for War Memorial, c.1950s

Featured in: From Time Immemorial (Neva M. Petersen Gallery)

Plasticine on wooden base

Gift of Marie Baird. In the Christian Petersen Art Collection, Christian Petersen Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University. UM2008.546ab


After World War II, Christian Petersen was obsessed with the idea of a war memorial, preferably one installed on the Iowa State campus.  His studio was full of sketches and models of proposals, none of which glorified war or mentioned victory.  All emphasized the cost of war in death and the grief it left behind.  The personification of these ideas was almost always a female figure, plainly dressed in long skirts and in an attitude of mourning, as this figure is. We know that he intended these women as war memorials because of their context in many drawings and through a photograph in the Ames Tribune of a model, similar to this one, that he proposed as a veterans memorial in a cemetery.  It was to carry an inscription that he had used on other war memorials: “Let the Voice of Silence Speak for Those Loved Ones Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice for God and Country.”      

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