Edward Reep, WWII Combat Artist
1918 - 2013
March 4, 2013
Edward Reep, one of our last surviving World War II Army Artists, passed away on February 28, 2013 at the age of 94. On his experience, Reep wrote: "Many times I painted and sketched while a battle raged. I was shelled, mortared, and strafed - the last a terrifying experience. At Monte Cassino the earth trembled (and so did my hand) as I attempted to paint the historic bombing of the magnificent abbey. At Anzio I innocently waited for the monstrous German cannon "Anzio Annie" to lob its shells into the harbor so that I could study and record the gigantic geysers of water shooting skyward. (At this point it didn't occur to me that one might do me in.) I joined reconnaissance patrols to seek out the enemy. More willing than knowledgeable, I almost destroyed myself on two occasions through my own stupidity."
Patrol - First Snow
Watercolor on paper, 1944
The Morning After
Reep painted this work the morning after many of his friends were killed by a German bomb while watching a movie in an underground theater. "I painted these men with dazed looks, and clouds up above that seemed to reach like a dragon, like in the Goya's Disasters of War. Everything seemed to be tragic, terrible, and meaningless."
Gouache on paper, 1944
"There was a fellow who hauled a bathtub out of Notuno, and filled it with water, and then he punched a hole in the gas tank and lit it. The painting was nutty. That's all there was to it. How in the world could this man be smiling on a beachead where shell fire would come all the time, constantly?"
Watercolor/gouache on paper, 1944