Reuterdahl, Henry, 1871-1925

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Henry Reuterdahl (August 12, 1871 – December 21, 1925) was a Swedish-American artist, author, and lecturer highly acclaimed for his nautical artwork. Reuterdahl had a long relationship with the United States Navy. After being sent to illustrate the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, he decided to remain in the United States where he began work as an illustrator for Chicago Graphic. Reuterdahl became well known for his maritime art after he did a series of vivid illustrations of navy warships for Harper’s and wrote about naval topics during the Spanish-American War.In addition to publishing nautical illustrations for numerous magazines, Reuterdahl displayed his own artwork at the Armory Exhibition in 1913 and worked as the American editor of the warship-enthusiast publication Jane’s Fighting Ships.

In 1907, Reuterdahl was selected by President Theodore Roosevelt to accompany the Great White Fleet voyage to document the journey. Just as the fleet was set to depart and parade America’s new naval power before the world, Reuterdahl published an article “The Needs of Our Navy,” in McClure’s Magazine. The article catalogued poor design features of the new battleships that severely limited the “navy’s ships and fighting ability.” Besides criticizing these engineering defects, Reuterdahl went on to blame the navy’s bureau system whose lack of direct contact with the sea “compels it to perpetuate mistakes." The article had a major impact, causing much consternation among not only the military, but in a large number of newspapers across the country as well. Reuterdahl left the Great White Fleet after it passed through the Strait of Magellan, some sources explaining the departure as a result of a family illness and others that he had been expelled from the journey by Theodore Roosevelt. Retuerdahl’s article eventually led to a reorganization of the Department of the Navy five years later.

In 1917, he was appointed a Lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve Force and the next year promoted to Lieutenant Commander and eventually honorably discharged in 1922. During World War I, Mr. Reuterdahl contributed with his brush huge naval paintings for the campaign to float Liberty Bonds and Navy recruitment, including many recruiting posters and a billboard in Times Square in New York City, and a large Liberty Bond sign painted with N.C. Wyeth. His art is represented at the Naval Academy by ten naval paintings presented to the Navy by the late George von L. Meyer, former Secretary.

The name Reuterdahl was like a household word in the American Navy because of the artist’s numerous contributions to its pictorial history and the many friendships had had formed with officers while aboard ship making marine pictures or painting mural decorations on the bulkheads of the officers’ mess rooms. He had decorated the ward rooms of many of the ward rooms of American battleships and destroyers, and for the Delaware, since scrapped, had painted a scene picturing that battleship with her guns in action. It was one of the most notable of his wardroom decorations.

Additionally, Reuterdahl painted marine murals for Vincent Astor’s yacht Noma, Harold S. Vanderbilt’s schooner yacht Vagrant, and the yacht Viking, owned by George D. Baker, Jr. For the Missouri State Capitol, he painted the naval mural “We Are Ready Now.”

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Miscellaneous correspondence, 1883-1970. Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
contributorOf Century illustrated monthly magazine. Century Magazine letters, 1870-1918. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Bain, George Grantham, 1865-1944. [Henry Reuterdahl] / [graphic] George Grantham Bain. Archives of American Art
referencedIn World War posters, 1914-1945 Claremont Colleges.Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library.
referencedIn American war posters from the First World War, circa 1914-circa 1919, bulk 1917-1919 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Addresses and articles (bound), 1899-1921. Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Sims, William Sowden, 1858-1936. William Sowden Sims papers, 1856-1951 (bulk 1900-1936). Library of Congress
referencedIn War Posters Collection, 1913-1945 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn William Sowden Sims Papers, 1856-1951, (bulk 1900-1936) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Art League Publishing Co. (Chicago, Ill.). Artists' biographical questionnaires, 1905. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Reuterdahl, Henry, 1871-1925. Artist file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
contributorOf Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952Series: American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917 - 1918. Artists. Artists - Artists paint to assist Third Liberty Loan. Photo shows Henry Reuterdahl (Lieut. U.S.N.R.) and M.C. Wyeth, noted artists, putting the last touches on the giant battle picture before the Sub-Treasury building, New York City, in the third Liberty Loan campaign, April 1918. National Archives at College Park
contributorOf Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952. American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917 - 1918. Artists. Artists - Naval Artist paints Liberty Loan Poster. Henry Reuterdahl painting 4th Liberty Loan poster in Washington, D.C. Rear Admiral Cowie is on the left. National Archives at College Park
contributorOf Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952. American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917 - 1918.Artists. Artists - Henry Reuterdahl, famous marine artist, aiding in the recruiting wave for the Navy. He is here seen on a skyscraper in Times Square, New York, painting a huge poster calling for men to enlisti n the Navy. National Archives at College Park
contributorOf Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952. American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917 - 1918. Artists. Artists - Famous Marine Artist. Henry Reuterdahl, famous marine artist, with paint and brush, ready for a job. National Archives at College Park
contributorOf Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs. 1860 - 1952. American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs. 1917 - 1918. Henry Reuterdahl (Lieutenant U.S. Naval Reserve) and N.C. Wyeth, noted artists, putting the last touches on the giant battle picture before the Sub-Treasury building, New York City, in the Third Liberty Loan campaign. National Archives at College Park
contributorOf Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952. American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917 - 1918. Posters - Red Cross. Posters - Red Cross [165-WW-459C-12]. National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798 - 2007. Official Military Personnel Files, 1885 - 1998. Official Military Personnel File for Henry Reuterdahl. National Archives at St. Louis
Relation Name
associatedWith Art League Publishing Co. (Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
associatedWith Bain, George Grantham, 1865-1944. person
correspondedWith Century Company corporateBody
associatedWith Century illustrated monthly magazine. corporateBody
correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919 person
correspondedWith Sims, William Sowden, 1858-1936. person
associatedWith United States Naval Academy corporateBody
memberOf United States. Naval Reserve Force corporateBody
memberOf United States. Navy corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Navy Department corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Sweden 08 ID
Washington, D. C. DC US
Subject
Naval history--Pictorial works
Art--20th century--United States--Exhibitions
Naval art and science--20th century
Art, American--20th century--Criticism, interpretation, etc
Art, American--20th century
Occupation
Journalism
Illustators--20th century
Naval officers
Artists
Painter
Illustrators--United States--20th century
Painters--20th century.--United States
Naval Officer
Painters, American
Activity

Person

Birth 1871-08-12

Death 1925-12-20

Male

Swedes,

Americans

English,

Swedish

Information

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