What one painter saw on Armistice Night, 1918

Almost exactly 100 years ago, social realist painter George Luks—who honed his artistic skills in Philadelphia before moving to New York in 1896—captured this scene on the night World War I ended.

“In Armistice Night, as in his earlier illustrations, Luks does not deliberate over particulars: the painting is a blur of American and Allied flags, faces, and fireworks,” states the Whitney Museum of Art.

“Blue smoke obscures the buildings in the background, and few individuals stand out in the quickly-rendered crowd. Typically, Luks was more committed to capturing the spirit of the moment than to transcribing visual facts—in this case the action and human drama in a celebratory crowd.”

I only wish I could positively identify the location. Union Square?

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9 Responses to “What one painter saw on Armistice Night, 1918”

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  3. J. Richard Villarin Says:

    I’m willing to bet it is Madison Square, with the Flatiron Building there in the background

  4. Louise Bernikow Says:

    yup. agree

  5. Mykola (Mick) Dementiuk Says:

    Disagree, I think this would be in the background if it was looking from 23rd and Broadway http://www.shorpy.com/node/23783 Nice, but no cigar.

  6. Bella Stander Says:

    Wouldn’t Union Square be a more logical location?

  7. David H Lippman Says:

    Has to be somewhere on 5th Avenue. Look at the twin-mast cast-iron lamppost on the right. With only a few exceptions, those were ordered and deployed specifically for 5th Avenue as part of the celebrations of Admiral Dewey’s victory over the Spanish at Manila Bay.

    There are a few other twin-masters — two in front of City Hall, but I don’t think that’s City Hall Park — one at Walker Street and 6th Avenue, another at Amsterdam Avenue and Hamilton Place, and for years one at Canal Street and West Street that got zapped by a truck. But they were specific to 5th Avenue, because of the artery’s ornate role and their ornate design.

    The width of the filigree on the lampposts tells me that it’s NOT the lamppost on the northeast corner of Broadway and 23rd Street. If you look carefully at the two surviving lampposts at that intersection (there used to be five), the one on the northeast corner has a narrower filigree than the one in the middle of the square. The one on the southeast corner was like the one in the middle of the square, and the one on 5th Avenue’s east side at 24th Street was like the one at Broadway and 23rd — narrow filigree. They are two different types of that design. Not many are left.

    Fifth Avenue it is…but where?

  8. Timothy Grier Says:

    Here’s a period photograph that may depict the location of the painting.

  9. Tom B Says:

    Is there a parade any more on Armistice Day, Veteran’s Day? I doubt if any Artists are painting the scene. But we do have a GOOGLE DOODLE for this day THIS year. It will reach more people around the world then a painting. Kudos to Google because they usually ignore USA historical days.

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