Background to the Project
The United States Navy has documented its wars, military operations, explorations and routine seaborne and airborne activities via artwork since before World War I. The Navy’s historic art collection (which is the responsibility of the Director of the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), acting as Curator of the Navy) currently contains nearly 20,000 paintings, drawings, sketches, and engravings that tell the Navy’s 240 year story. Each year the collection grows through donations, transfers and new works created by artists on the staff of the Art Gallery Branch of NHHC’s Collection Management Division.
Over the last decade, as imaging technology advanced and federal funds have been available, the Navy Art Collection curators have systematically contracted for the photography and creation of high resolution digital files for artwork within their collection. By September 2015, 3,775 of those nearly 20,000 works had been photographed and digitized. These works are available to view and purchase in a variety of formats at the RequestAPrint website HERE, courtesy of photographer Joe Rudinec. A portion of every sale supports the mission of the Navy Historical Foundation to conserve, preserve and display the artworks in the collection.
Click the graphic below to go to the Navy Art Collection, courtesy of Rudinec-RequestAPrint.A portion of every sale supports the mission of the Navy Historical Foundation to conserve, preserve and display the artworks in the collection, or go to our dedicated page on Navy Art Reproductions:
NACAL Art Digitization
During major combat such as World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Navy deployed combat artists in uniform to document all aspects of these conflicts. At certain times, partnerships were created to enhance the collections of Navy art. For example, after World War II, Abbott Laboratories donated to the Navy artwork related to the Navy that they had commissioned during the war. During the 1960s and 1970s in order to augment the work of the limited number of combat artists, the Navy’s Chief of Information established a liaison with the Salmagundi Club of New York City to encourage the production and donation of artwork by civilian artists for inclusion in the Navy Art Collection. The Salmagundi Club appointed a Navy Art Cooperation and Liaison Committee (NACAL) to advise on art matters and to nominate artists for diverse assignments to portray Navy activities throughout the world. Through the voluntary services of numerous artists via the Salmagundi Club of New York City (NACAL East) and the Municipal Art Department of the City of Los Angeles (NACAL West), the Navy’s Chief of Information in conjunction with the Navy Art Collection curators would review the nominations and issue Secretary of the Navy invitational travel orders to each approved artist. Artwork turned over to Navy included all reproduction rights and became the permanent property of the Navy. Through the NACAL program, the Navy Art Collection increased by over 1,700 paintings, watercolors, and drawings. R.G. Smith, Charles Waterhouse and Cecile Ryden Johnson are just some of the noteworthy artists that participated in the program.
With generous grant support from the Cincinnati Financial Group by way of the Naval Historical Foundation as the nonprofit organization supporting NHHC, an additional 615 NACAL Collection artworks have now been photographed and digitized, so that approximately 85% of that collection is now accessible to the Navy Art Collection curators as digital files and color transparences. Not only have the works been preserved for the Navy, but the digital images of the NACAL Collection have been uploaded to a Naval Historical Foundation website where they are accessible to the American public.