Combat Gallery Sunday : The Martial Art of Thomas Baumgartner

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday : The Martial Art of Thomas Baumgartner

Born in Munich in 15 July 1892, Thomas Baumgartner was a Bavarian through and through. Studying at the Aktklasse at the Munich Academy from 1911, he was awarded the prestigious Goldene Medaille from the Münchner Glaspalast following exhibition of his works, including that of General Von Keller in particular.

Specializing in portraits, the young man was not picky about who he painted, spending the same amount of time and attention on both high society and common man

Portrait of Bavarian author Ludwig Thoma by Thomas Baumgartner 1912. This image was oddly enough used by a brand of beer and thus on beer steins in Munich for years.

Portrait of Bavarian author Ludwig Thoma by Thomas Baumgartner 1912. This image was oddly enough used by a brand of beer and thus on beer steins in Munich for years.

Bavarian Koenig Ludwig III

Bavarian Koenig Ludwig III

During the Great War, Baumgartner was tapped to continue to craft portraits of high-ranking Bavarian and other German officers, as well as a wonderful series of paintings of captured Allied troops highlighting their uniforms in 1916.

Assorted Russians

Assorted Russians from three different regiments, with the soldier in the center wearing the typical short cap of those worn by Tsarist Rifles battalion.

Portraits of soldiers first world war by Thomas Baumgartner (1892-1962) 8

Asiatic Russians. The one on the right is a junior NCO, a lance sergeant, as noted by his pogoni (shoulder boards) too bad you can’t make out the regimental number

Portraits of soldiers first world war by Thomas Baumgartner (1892-1962) 9

Note the scars on these West African French soldiers, likely from Senegal

Portraits of soldiers first world war by Thomas Baumgartner (1892-1962) 7

Asian Commonwealth soldiers, likely from the Malay Rifles though it is broadly possible though unlikely they are from “The Suicide Battalion” 46th Battalion (South Saskatchewan), CEF due to the battalion insignia. The 10th Regiment (1st Burma Rifles) Madras Infantry was formed during the war, but served in the Middle East after Baumgartner painted this picture, making it unlikely these men were from that unit.

Portraits of soldiers first world war by Thomas Baumgartner (1892-1962) 6

British Indian troops

Portraits of soldiers first world war by Thomas Baumgartner (1892-1962) 5

French Tirailleur Algerians

French Tirailleur Algerians

Nepalese Gurhkas

Nepalese Gurhkas


Scots, with tartans very close to that of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Portraits of soldiers first world war by Thomas Baumgartner (1892-1962)

British commonwealth troops, possibly from the West Indies but it’s hard to tell without shoulder or collar insignia

After the War, Baumgartner resumed his more traditional work.

In the 1920s he became first a regular contributor then later an editor for Jugend (Youth) magazine, a Bavarian art journal that popularized “Jugendstil” a sort of German art nouveau style that remained well liked through the Wiemar era while the style lost favor in the rest of the world.


Jugend remained in publication, though heavily edited, after the Nazis came to power, until 1940 when it folded for good. After all, Hitler thought himself both something of an artist and a Bavarian.

This led Baumgartner into some very dark works during the 1930s and 40s including Der Kampf des Arztes mit dem Tod but was nonetheless an “approved artist” under National Socialism and during the same time provided portrait services to many in the upper level of the Third Reich, which I don’t have the stomach to repeat here.

He was one of the driving forces behind founding the Haus der Deutschen Kunst (House of German Art) in Munich.

Baumgartner survived the war and lived until 1962, returning to the occasional portrait of those close to him in the twilight of his life.

Baumgartner's neighbor in Kreuth, farmer Lorenz Hagen, who was 99 years and 9 months old when painted.

Baumgartner’s neighbor in Kreuth, farmer Lorenz Hagen, who was 99 years and 9 months old when painted.

Some 46 of his paintings are in the collection of the Deutschen Nationalbibliothek and his traditional portraits trade modestly.

Thank you for your work, sir.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

One response to “Combat Gallery Sunday : The Martial Art of Thomas Baumgartner”

  1. Andrea Baumgartner says :

    Thank you for this article about my father! Andrea Baumgartner

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