Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: The Greatest Mother.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Greatest Mother.

"The Greatest Mother" by Alonzo Foringer in 1918 was produced for the Red Cross and its second fund drive. Already an accomplished muralist, Foringer choose this composition because it depicted "tenderness and mercy." The founding principles of the Red Cross are displayed in the simply fact that it is not clear of which nationality the soldier is fighting for. The Red Cross itself was established to help the wounded warriors, regardless of allegiance.

But this "Mother" also is very similar to another mother in both meaning and composition. A mother from the beginning of many peoples faith and a mother as a subject of one of the most beautiful sculptures ever done.

The Virgin Mary as depicted in Michelangelo's "Pieta."

Notice the similar stance. Not kneeling but not standing. Both holding their wounded in their arms, draped in long, flowing robes. In both pieces of art it should also be noticed that the wounded are considerably smaller than they should be, thrusting more emphasis on the matron. And where as in the "Pieta" Mary looks down to her fallen son, in "The Greatest Mother" the benevolent nurse looks to the heavens for help.

A quick sampling of the Red Cross artwork of WWI distinctly portrays its female subjects as angels on the battlefield, looking to you to do what's righteous. It plays on many of our images associated with goodness in our very much Christian society. Perhaps this was never more on display that when depicted "The Greatest Mother" in the vain of "The Greatest Mother."


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A great post.

The image of woman and motherhood is an important part of religous iconography, advertising and propaganda. These symbols are deep in European and American culture. If you want to shape public opinion it is best to start with the powerful symbols of our common culture.

3/11/2009 10:07 PM  

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