A specialist in painting naval scenes, marine artist Henry Reuterdahl turned his self-taught talents into several occupations. Employed first as an illustrator and war correspondent, he soon was commissioned to paint scenes and portraits for military agencies and important individuals. He was an official artist for the U.S. Navy during World War I.
He chronicled events of the Spanish-American War in 1898. Those observations led him to author âThe Needs of our Navyâ, a January 1908 article for McClureâs Magazine. This report listed the opinions of William Sims, a naval officer favored by President Theodore Roosevelt. For years Sims lamented the poor marksmanship of the American warships in the action against Spain, and flaws in the basic gunnery designs. Reuterdahlâs article initiated a congressional inquiry and the military changes Sims desired.
In 1913, Reuterdahl toured South America with the Great White Fleet onboard the battleship U.S.S. MINNESOTA, with Sims in command. They participated in the Vera Cruz campaign to prevent a German arms deal with Mexico. The next year found the pair traveling the Mediterranean Sea at the onset of events leading to World War I.
After winning a silver medal for painting in the Panama-Pacific Expo of 1915, he was commissioned to paint panels for steam yachts owned by Vincent Astor and G.F. Baker, and he painted a work for Harold S. Vanderbiltâs schooner VAGRANT.
Reuterdahlâs Work Endures in the Permanent Collections of Military Museums and Numerous Private Collections Nationwide.