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aka ARTHUR BEAUMONT
(born Arthur Edwin, Eadwine, or Edwaine, Crabbe)
"Artist Laureate" of the United States Navy 1932-1978
His birth was registered 2nd quarter in 1890 at Blofield, NFK, ENG. Arthur Edwin Crabbe was born on 25 March 1890 at Thorpe St Andrew, NFK, ENG. He was the son of Moses Samuel Crabbe and Sarah Jane Belderson. Arthur Edwin Crabbe emigrated in 1908 from SAS, CAN. As of 1909, Arthur Edwin Crabbe lived at Oakland, CA, USA. He married Zaida May Douver on 18 November 1912. On 1915 his name was legally changed to Arthur Beaumont-Crabbe. On 1919 his name was legally changed to Arthur Beaumont. Arthur Edwin Crabbe married Dorothy Dean on 4 April 1919 at Los Angeles, CA, USA. Arthur Edwin Crabbe died on 23 January 1978 at age 87.
Given a commission in the Naval Reserves, Beaumont did serve with the Navy from August 17, 1933 to December 27, 1934; later, however, it was the cultivation of his friendships with officers of the fleet that enabled him to continue in his avowed profession.
Although Arthur Beaumont was not an American citizen by birth, he felt deep love and respect for his adopted country. His classical training as an artist and his fascination with the sea and the vessels which sail upon her led Beaumont into an association with the U.S. Navy which lasted nearly five decades. The relationship began in the early 1930s, when he was commissioned to paint formal portraits of several Naval Officers, including Vice Admiral William D. Leahy. Leahy suggested that Beaumont paint studies of the Fleet for the Navy. At once Beaumont recognized the opportunity to record history and to create fine works of art simultaneously, as Henry Reuterdahl (1871-1925) had done for the Navy during World War I. Thus his art acquired purpose and meaning, allowing him to express creatively the patriotism evoked by his adopted land.
In an early article entitled "Artist Discovers Idealism, Rhythm and Color in U.S. Fleet" Beaumont discussed his choice of subject matter:
"I am trying to create the impression, among other things, that the Navy exists for a definite purpose. It is a protective and not an aggressive force. It is manned by men of whose character and performance this nation should be proud....There is a side of the Navy that the public knows little about. It has beauty and finesse in an artistic and cultural sense. In picturing every phase of our Naval activity, I am trying to emphasize that side of our gray wardens of the deep...I am accenting the beautiful and the good in our Navy, which I really believe is its predominating quality."
The War Years: 1939-1945
The war years mark Beaumont's most prolific period. He painted ships and battle scenes as an Artist Correspondent; he raised funds for war relief; he created posters and led fund-raising for the construction of the USS Los Angeles. He also completed an eight-painting patriotic series of ships for National Geographic Magazine. His work for the Navy continued as always. In those pre television days, Beau's skills were sought by the Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express. They commissioned him as a journalist-illustrator to depict European battle scenes for papers and to paint black and white portraits of the American Fleet. The battle illustrations showed American readers what the fighting looked like as conceived by the artist. Tearing news of Naval battles off the teletype, Beau, with his copy of "Jane's Fighting Ships" before him, would paint the encounter as he imagined it. The painting, suitably captioned, then appeared under a headline in the evening paper. One example is The Raiders...Deutschland and Emden, which showed the sinking of a British freighter by Nazi ships.
America's isolationist stance disappointed Beau. During his studies in England in 1925, he had seen the catastrophic toll the First World War had taken. He had been devastated to learn that all of his boyhood friends had been killed. Therefore, Beau took a great interest in helping the war effort. Teaming with the film actor Montagu Love, he organized the Artists and Sculptors Benefit, an auction of works by fifty prominent Southern California artists which funded war relief.
National Geographic Magazine commissioned Beaumont to do a series of eight paintings for the September 1941 issue. The series, "Ships That Guard Our Ocean Ramparts," was designed to garner public support for the war effort. After their debut in the periodical, the paintings were widely reproduced in newspapers and exhibited throughout the country...their significance heightened, no doubt, by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor just three months later. Many of the ships Beau had painted during the previous ten years were destroyed or badly damaged in the attack, including the USS Arizona, the USS Oklahoma, the USS Utah, the USS Pennsylvania, the USS California and the USS Maryland.
Beau was on the East Coast that December on another assignment for National Geographic Magazine (sponsored by the War Department) to portray Army maneuvers. Being away from Dot and the children made him very nervous. Two days after Pearl Harbor, he wrote to Dot:
"A war is on. Don't get panicky. Los Angeles is a huge city and if anything does happen, it will be the oil tanks, airfields, and the shipping they will be after. Get your little car into good condition, however, stock it with emergency food and blankets...have it always full of gas and oil....Keep all this to yourself, don't talk about what you are going to do...but for God's sake DO IT, and be prepared."
It is extraordinary to think that Beau traveled to the Antarctic at seventy years of age, producing paintings of historical relevance and dramatic beauty. In 1964, recognizing his uncompromising patriotism, his devotion to work, and his thirty years of service as a Navy artist, Beau was granted their most prestigious civilian award, the Navy Meritorious Public Service Citation. Beau wrote to the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Paul H. Nitze, thanking him. "Please accept my sincere and heartfelt thanks for this great honor, which I treasure above all other commendations. The work accomplished over the years in painting and recording for history the activities of the Navy I love so well, I feel has been a great privilege and a distinct pleasure," Beau continued his work for the Navy until the end of his life. In 1966 he traveled to Vietnam to record the Navy's small craft operations against the Viet Cong junks, but his active participation with the Navy slowed considerably. More often now he and Dot traveled, visiting Navy friends and other acquaintances through out the world. Beau never did retire. A backlog of commissions kept him painting five days a week. On the stairwell of their Laguna Hills home, a woven mat from an English pub with the words "Take Courage" gave Beau inspiration to climb the stairs every day to his studio to paint.
The Latter Years: 1962-1978
In 1964 he began painting a series of Revolutionary War sailing ships which occupied him for the next ten years. It is some of his best work, reminiscent of the first ship portraits he executed in the early 1930s. Like his contemporary, British artist Montague Dawson, Beaumont depicted traditional maritime subjects including the USS Constellation and the USS Constitution Beau also executed a commission of twenty-four ship portraits for the National Steel Company between 1970 and 1973. Beau was honored with a retrospective exhibition in 1976 at the Laguna Beach Museum of Art, just two years before he passed away The show of 127 works chronicling the years 1931 to 1976 was well received. An excerpt from the museum brochure reads "Today, as we honor this Artist Laureate of the Fleet, Mr. Beaumont continues to research with acute perception and produce with unwavering quality historically significant commissions," In the winter of his eighty-seventh year, Beau's strength waned. Hospitalized after a heart attack, he enjoyed the visits of relatives and his many friends. Often people requested autographs, but soon he was unable to sign his name. Realizing he could no longer paint, he lost his will to live. On January 23, 1978, Beau passed away, survived by his wife, four children, thirteen grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Learning of Beau's death, his good friend, Admiral Arleigh Burke, wrote to Dot:
Great talent is given to but few men, and Beau gained the respect and admiration of his peers by his great paintings. But he also gained even more ardent admiration from those of us who were not expert in his difficult field, but who, as sailors realized that Beau put the spirit of the sea into his paintings as it is felt and cannot be expressed by those who go down to the sea in ships. Beau loved the sea and his work showed it. He loved the Navy as few men do, and Navy people in generations to come will be grateful to him for his inspiring paintings....He was beloved for his personal characteristics... .He was a man of great integrity coupled with unusual understanding. He was a great man. He will be sorely missed.
There is some confusion concerning Beaumont's official activities with the Navy. His transcript of service, dated 15 March 1944, indicates his resignation as a Lieutenant in the Naval Reserve was accepted on 27 December 1934. Yet various newspaper and magazine articles published during the war identify him as a Lieutenant Commander or a Commander. John Barnett, Curator of the Navy Combat Art Collection in Washington, D.C., stated there are no records to indicate that Beaumont was an "Official Combat Artist" Also, Beaumont himself, in a letter to an "Admiral Benson" dated December 12, 1957 (Beaumont archives), did not list himself as having been a combat artist but rather an "Artist-Correspondent" with clearances for various assignments with the Navy.
1942 Commissioned by National Geographic Magazine and sponsored by the War Department to paint a series of sixteen paintings of the Army on maneuvers, The series appears in the November issue of National Geographic. Engaged by Paramount Studios to make scenes for the film Wake Island Beau is given rank as a Senior Combat Artist for the U.S. Navy as a Lieutenant Commander. In 1944 Beau is given War Correspondent status with Navy rank.
In 1964, recognizing his uncompromising patriotism, his devotion to work, and his thirty years of service as a Navy artist, Beau was granted their most prestigious civilian award, the Navy Meritorious Public Service Citation for valuable contributions to the Navy, by the Secretary of the Navy, Paul Nitze.
1966 Travels to Vietnam to sketch the Navy's small craft operations against Viet Cong junks.
1967 Participates in operation "Blue Coral" on board the USS Chicago.
1970 Commissioned by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company to paint 17 LST ships and 7 AFS ships, which he completes over the following three years.
1972 Given "Honorary Aviator" award by the Third Marine Aircraft Wing of the Marine Corps Air Station.
He continued to paint for the Navy until his death in 1978.