Clear the Way!!, 1918
Howard Chandler Christy (American, 1872-1952)
Lithograph on paper
On loan from the Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection, Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of South Carolina
Howard Chandler Christy portrays Columbia as a muse intended to inspire Americans to buy war bonds, in effect leading the way for sailors to fight their way across the Atlantic. Artistically, Christy may be referring to the dynamic nature of the muscular male form as seen in Peter Paul Rubens’ 1610 painting Raising of the Cross. Columbia points the way for American sailors to aim their cannons overseas parallel to the diagonal cross on which Christ is raised. In another reference to Rubens, her dress morphs into the waves of the ocean, similar to the nereids (sea nymphs) escorting the French queen on her seafaring journey in his 1625 painting The Arrival of Marie de Medici at Marseilles.