Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Paul Sample

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 Paul Sample

Paul Sample was born in Lousiville, Kentucky, 14 September 1896. Enrolling at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in 1916 to pursue art, he put his education on hold when the U.S. rushed into the Great War in 1917, serving in the Naval Reserve.

Once the war was over, he returned to Dartmouth, graduating in the class of 1920. After a stint with tuberculosis, Sample studied drawing and painting from artist Jonas Lie, then, using his Veteran’s Bonus, studied in New York and at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. By 1926 at age 30, he was on the faculty at USC.

By 1934, he was one of the most influential artists in the country, adept at Social Realism and American Regionalist painting styles with his work shown at the Met and appearing in Fortune, Esquire, Country Gentlemen, and American Artist.

Maple Sugaring, Paul Sample

In 1936, his old alma mater at Dartmouth made him an artist in residence– becoming their longest serving, making it through 1962.

In 1941 he was elected academician by the National Academy of Design.

When WWII came, the former Navy man served as a Life Correspondent attached to the sea service, embarking on the carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) and heavy cruiser USS Portland (CA-33) among others, covering the war in both the Atlantic and Pacific in watercolors that capture the feeling of the moment.

Fighter disaster on USS Ranger (CV 4), which depicts the crash of an F4F-4 “Wildcat” fighter on board USS Ranger on 25 August 1942 after an off center landing attempt. Artwork by Paul Sample. Photo # NH 89617-KN (Color)

Fighter disaster on USS Ranger (CV 4), which depicts the crash of an F4F-4 “Wildcat” fighter on board USS Ranger on 25 August 1942 after an off-center landing attempt. Artwork by Paul Sample. Photo # NH 89617-KN (Color). It should be noted that Ranger sailed to support the Torch Landings just days after this incident, where her aircraft were influencial in silencing the French.

Ship's band, USS RANGER (CV-4) Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1942. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89619-KN

Ship’s band, USS RANGER (CV-4) Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1942. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89619-KN

Seaplane base, Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1942. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89615-KN

Seaplane base, Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1942. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89615-KN

Field carrier landings, Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1942. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89616-KN

Field carrier landings, Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1942. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89616-KN. Note the distinctive gear of the F4F Wildcat.

"Chinese overside, submarine base, Pearl Harbor"Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1943. 28"x 44". Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89621-KN

“Chinese overside, submarine base, Pearl Harbor” Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1943. 28″x 44″. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89621-KN

Crew's quarters aboard a Pacific submarine Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1943. 17"x 24". Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89620-KN

Crew’s quarters aboard a Pacific submarine Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1943. 17″x 24″. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89620-KN. Note the crew sleeping on the torpedos. The foot front and to the left is great as is the “Shipwreck” GI Joe character.

Skipper on the bridge, Pacific submarine Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1943. 24"x 30". Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89622-KN

Skipper on the bridge, Pacific submarine Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1943. 24″x 30″. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89622-KN

Red beach, Leyte, Pacific Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1944. 14"x 38". Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89623-KN

Red beach, Leyte, Pacific Caption: Artist: Paul Sample, 1944. 14″x 38″. Description: Time-Life Collection Courtesy of Chief of Military History Catalog #: NH 89623-KN

After the war, Sample did mural work, painted the Saturn rocket launch for NASA in 1964.

He died in 1974, after working in his Vermont studio that morning, age 80.

Works by Sample may be found at the Arkell Museum, Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Currier Gallery of Art, Hood Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Springfield Museum of Art in Utah, and the D’Amour Museum of Fine Art.

Thank you for your work, sir.

2 comments

  • Another great article about a great painter; can you explain the “Chinese overside” practice illustrated? The term “overside” appears online going back to the 1870s, but not for any activity like this one. Thanks!

    • I just found an original painting of “Winter in Vermont.” It’s absolutely beautiful. Signed Paul Sample. Very old and condition in average. Not a print.

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