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BELGIAN’S WORLD WAR I KING ALBERT ARTIFACTS
- World War I King Albert portrait and important correspondence and artifacts that belonged to American artist Douglas Volk, who in 1919, following the end of World War I was selected by the National Art Committee to paint the portraits of King Albert of Belgium, Lloyd George of Great Britain, and General John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, are being offered for sale by Beltrone & Company.
Volk's commissioned painting of Albert shows the King on the battlefield in military uniform, holding a Belgian helmet with his left hand. This large painting, measuring 97-1/8-inches by 59-3/4-inches, was a gift from the National Art Committee on June 21, 1923 to the American Art Museum, now part of the Smithsonian Institution.
Besides the main painting, Volk did a portrait of King Albert wearing an overcoat over his military uniform, similar to that shown in the full-standing portrait now in the possession of the Smithsonian. It is important to note that during the sittings with the King, it is reported both artist Volk and Belgian leader King Albert became very close friends.
It is this small portrait that was painted by Volk in his studio that is part of the Douglas Volk group we currently have available. In addition to it, the group consists of a World War I Belgian helmet complete with liner, perhaps the same helmet King Albert held while posing for the Volk full-standing portrait. In addition to the helmet, the grouping also consists of more than 100 postcards and pieces of correspondence from various sources regarding Volk's painting of King Albert, not just from the artist, but from Belgian officials as well as officials from the National Art Committee.
Some examples of the subjects covered--on August 7, 1919, Volk wrote a letter to Henry White, the chairman of the National Art Commission, who was staying at the Hotel Crillon in Paris. He first described arrangements with Lloyd George of Great Britain, then wrote about Ki