The Poster Journal

Joseph Pennell

A legendary American illustrator and lithographer  who is most famous for the forth Liberty Loans campaign of 1918. The graphic poster depicts the New York harbor under arsenal and naval bombardment, New York city completely destroyed and the statue of Liberty engulfed by flames with her head and torch blown into pieces. 


In 1918 a very special book was published by J.B Lippincott Company that explains, in great depth, the many processes and variations Pennell’s poster underwent during its campaign. The book acts, as it states on the cover,  as a text book for artists and amateurs, governments and teachers and painters.The text is written by Pennell in an intimate and passionate tone, detailing the posters creation and post production, it also spends some time on the history of the poster,  which he dates back to as early as prehistorical times.

Now that all governments are using posters, now that all advertisers are mostly misusing them, it might be well to consider what a poster is, or should be, what its history is, or has been. A poster is a subject, or object, so all about us that we look at it, if effective, remember it, if vital, talk about it, and if it has these qualities it fulfills its mission, and it should live if it is a work of art, but it usually disappears, though future ages will hunt up some of our posters. - Joseph Pennell

Today Pennell’s masterpiece serves as an important artifact in the history of poster art. As the document is well and truly out of copyright we thought we would share a digitized version here with our readers. Click here to download Joseph Pennell’s Liberty Loan Poster: A text book