Wake Up America is one of the best and rarest of all WWI posters. James Montgomery Flagg, the artist, shows the actress Mary Arthur who was his model for Colombia as the personification of America and Liberty. Colombia is shown napping in Red, White & Blue stars and stripes and wearing a Phrygian cap (a symbol of freedom since Roman times) as if in false security on a rocking chair against a fluted column (another visual reference to Western classical antiquity and civilization) as sinister storm clouds gather in the background (Source: Library of Congress exhibition). She’s soon to be roused to the war’s threat to free civilization in Europe.
This powerful image is a visual history. It is all about the message. Our world changed from innocence to all-out war.
The message is stationed on the top and bottom in Bold/all-caps lettering “WAKE UP, AMERICA!”, “CIVILIZATION CALLS EVERY MAN WOMAN AND CHILD!” on top of the blue banners.
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La Belle Epoque 71 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10014-1227
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