Last Known Activity|
LCDR William Franklin DRAPER
WWII - Combat Artist - USNR
Bill Draper was commissioned by the US Navy as one of five official WWII combat artists. He painted 69 descriptive wartime scenes between 1942-1945, many of them were featured in National Geographic magazine. It wasn't easy being a combat artist - conditions were difficult and often dangerous. Bill landed with the second wave of marines at Bougainville and while assigned to the USS Yorktown he painted a series of paintings on the first air attack on Palau. He covered the landings at Hollandia and the air strike on Truk.
Draper covered the invasion of Saipan and Guam aboard the USS Tennessee depicting the powerful destruction that hit this island. While he was aboard, the battleship Tennessee was hit three times. He landed and remained on the island of Saipan for eighteen days recording the bitter struggle and eventual success of this action. At Guam he landed with the assault troops under heavy enemy fire.
William Franklin Draper (December 24, 1912 - October 26, 2003) was a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, and an American painter.
Draper was born in Hopedale, Massachusetts on December 24, 1912. His parents were Clare H. Draper and Mathilda Engamn Draper. After first studying piano, he decided to instead, choose painting as his career. Draper attended the Pomfret School in Connecticut, and later Harvard University. After Harvard, he attended the National Academy of Design in New York, and the Cape Art School in Massachusetts. Following his education, he went to Spain to study briefly, and then moved to France, where he attended the Grand Cahumiere. In 1937, he studied sculpture with George Demetrius, a Boston sculptor, and Jon Corbino in New York.
On 1 July 1942, at the age of 29, Draper entered the Naval Reserves as a Lieutenant (junior grade). After his initial training, Draper was assigned to illustrate training material at the Anti-Submarine Warfare Unit in Boston. Following his service in Boston, he transferred into the Naval Art Section, and was dispatched to Alaska, where he spent much of the next year painting in the Aleutian Islands. He was in Amchitka when the Japanese invaded during World War II, and his paintings depict the attacks, as seen from his close-range foxhole. Draper painted while dealing with the wind and Arctic weather, which made painting difficult, as he had to wear gloves to keep from getting frostbite.
After Draper returned from Alaska, he was requested as the artist for the portrait of Rear Admiral J.R. Beardall, then Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy. Following the completion of the portrait, he served in a variety of other areas in the Pacific, and commissioned to paint portraits of several other admirals.
Draper also landed with the second wave of marines at Bougainville. After the Bougainville Campaign, Draper was assigned to the USS Yorktown (CV-10), and while on duty, painted the series of air attacks on Palau, the landings at Hollandia, and the airstrikes on Truk island. Draper also covered invasions of Saipan and Guam aboard the USS Tennessee (BB-43). During his tour on the Tennessee, the ship was hit three times by enemy fire, and they were forced to land at Guam.
Draper was awarded the Bronze Star for his meritorious work as a combat artist in the Aleutians and under enemy attack in the South Pacific. He left the Navy in 1945 as a Lieutenant Commander. Returning to painting, he became a well-known American artist, with subjects ranging from John F. Kennedy (painted in 1962), Richard M. Nixon, (1981), the Shah of Iran (painted in 1967), James Michener (1979), Henry Kaiser, and Dr. Richard E. Winter (1992).
In 1999, Draper received a lifetime achievement award from the Portrait Society of America.
Draper died on October 26, 2003 at the age of 90.