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    Cyrus LeRoy Baldridge: Original Artwork for "I Was There": With the Yanks in France, Sketches Made on the Western Front, 1917-1919. Baldridge wrote that the 130 pages of original sketches in his sketchbook were created to serve "as a record of 'doughboy' type, of the people he lived with in France, with whom he suffered, and by whose side he fought." The sketches are ink, some with a color wash. The original drawings, often more than one to a page, are on the front and back of the 10.5" x 11" pages of a cloth bound sketchbook. Baldridge made these sketches "...during a year's service as a camion driver with the French army in the Chemin-des-Dames sector and a year's service with the A.E.F. as an infantry private on special duty with The Stars and Stripes, the official A.E.F. newspaper. Most of them were drawn at odd minutes during the French push of 1917 near Fort Malmaison at loading parks and along the roadside while on truck convoy, and while on special permission to draw and paint with the French Army... during a time I was stationed at Soissons. The rest were drawn on American fronts from the Argonne to Belgium as my duties took me from one offensive to another." All of the original sketches appear in the 1919 G. P. Putnam's Sons edition of Baldridge's "I Was There" (a library copy of which is included with the sketchbook). Many of the sketches had previously appeared in The Stars and Stripes, Leslie's Weekly, and Scribners Magazine. Also included in the sketchbook are several newspaper articles and photos of men Baldridge served with in France. All the sketches are in excellent condition.

    Cyrus LeRoy Baldridge, artist, illustrator, author, and adventurer, was born in 1889 to a loving mother and an abusive father. His mother left her husband and raised her son as a single parent. In the process, she instilled in her son a sense of independence and self-reliance. Cyrus's career in art began when the 10-year-old was accepted as the youngest student at Frank Holme's Chicago School of Illustration. Baldridge was admitted to the University of Chicago in 1907 and became a campus leader and voted most likely to succeed. Upon graduation in 1911, and between commissions as an illustrator, he worked in a Chicago settlement house and in the city's stockyards. He became superb rider while training in the Illinois National Guard Cavalry and worked as a cow hand on the King Ranch in Texas for a summer.

    When World War I began, Baldridge traveled through Belgium and France as a war correspondent and illustrator. Using a German letter of passage he interacted with the conquered and their conquerors. He traveled through war zones on bicycle, horse cart, and horseback until his money ran out and he returned to Chicago. In 1916 he was mobilized as a member of the Illinois National Guard and sent to the Mexican border to guard against bandit raids. In 1917 Baldridge joined the American Field Service to drive ambulances in France. When the United States finally entered the war in 1917, Baldridge transferred to the United States Army where he was assigned to The Stars and Stripes newspaper. Baldridge traveled freely over the battlefields and was deeply moved by their horror.

    He saw as much of the war as anyone could, traveling with the German Army as a journalist in the beginning, and later being part of both the French and American campaigns. He walked among piles of dead soldiers and lines of innocent people filling the roads after their homes had been destroyed. As he put it, ". . . a nightmare of horror: a red vision of machine guns and dead men, inspiring only a feeling of disgust for the cold efficiency with which it was accomplished."

    Baldridge's reputation as an illustrator was launched in the United States when his battlefield drawings appeared on many covers of Leslie's Weekly and Scribners. After the war he assembled his sketches as his first book, "I Was There: With the Yanks in France", a collection of sketches that record, better than cameras could, intimate moments of sadness, heroism, and relaxation. It was the first of many books he authored and one of hundreds of books he illustrated. In 1977, feeling himself losing the battle against age, Cyrus Baldridge ended his own life with a pistol he had been issued in World War I.

    Baldridge's artwork is in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art; the Samuel Insull Collection at Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee; the University of Wyoming, Laramie; Santa Fe Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico; St. John's College, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Art Museum of Roswell, New Mexico; and, the collection of war artists, University of California at Los Angeles.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2010
    11th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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