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Alton  S. Tobey

Six murals for
The General Douglas MacArthur Memorial
Norfolk, Virginia

Tobey working on one of the six 7 x 13  foot murals he painted for the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia

             In the course of creating six Murals on the life of Douglas MacArthur for the general's memorial at Norfolk, Tobey painted more than a hundred portraits of actual people who were present at the historical events. His work was accomplished from research on the general's early life and experience and from over 2000 slides that had been provided to him by the State Department.

     This was a hallmark of all his work on historical subjects -- an insistence on absolute accuracy.        



         In its first year of operation in 1964-65, the MacArthur Memorial, in Norfolk Virginia, which had been converted to the resting place and memorial for the General from an 1850's courthouse, had over 435,000 visitors from the 50 states and from 46 foreign countries.

         In that same year, Alton Tobey was commissioned by the Edwin Abbey Mural Fund to execute a series of six 7 x 13 foot murals to be installed in the rooms at the memorial. In 1966 the last of the murals executed by Tobey depicting events in the life of the general was unveiled. Since the publication of this web site, more information on the MacArthur murals has been added to the Memorial's web page on the murals itself and can be found on the here on the MacArthur Memorial site itself.


Trench Warfare

ABOVE LEFT: The first mural entitled Reflections, is an overview of the general's life. MacArthur is seen in civilian clothes with an open diary on his lap; surrounding him are his memories. The square portrait at upper left is of MacArthur's father, Arthur. At upper right is his mother, Mary Pinkney Hardy MacArthur. At the left is a depiction of the Civil War heroism for which Arthur MacArthur won the Congressional Medal of Honor. At center is the long grey line of West Point. To the right, Douglas MacArthur's famed Vera Cruz adventure behind the Mexican lines. The other sketches evoke MacArthur's boyhood and young manhood.

ABOVE RIGHT: The second mural captures the horror of trench warfare in France. As the youngest general in the American Expeditionary Forces in 1917, MacArthur was decorated 13 times and cited seven more for bravery. He was wounded and gassed twice. He is shown here reconnoitering the front from the trenches.


Return to the Philippines


The Japanese Surrender

ABOVE LEFT: Mural #3 illustrates the promise the general made to the Philippine nation: "I shall return". With members of his staff, the Philippine president and military leaders he arrives at the island of Leyte in 1944.

ABOVE RIGHT: Mural #4 shows the surrender of the Japanese ending World War II aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The 41 full portraits in the mural are of men who were actually present at the event.





(Image will be shown as soon as it is available)

The Landing at Inchon

 Old Soldiers Never Die

ABOVE LEFT: The fifth mural is a montage of MacArthur's last military campaign and one of his most brilliant tactical strokes, the landing at Inchon in the Korean War. At upper left, MacArthur, his aide Brigadier General courtney Whitney, and Major General Edward M. Almond observe the shelling of the Korean Port. In the background, battleships and rocket craft fire salvos and landing craft move toward the beaches with their cargoes of men and material. Elsewhere a tank breathes menace as infantrymen use it to screen their attack. At the right of the mural, MacArthur, as U.N. forces commander, restores the seat of Korean government in Seoul to President Synghman Rhee.

ABOVE RIGHT: The final mural shows MacArthur giving his legendary "Old Soldiers" speech before Congress, April 19, 1951; and details of his adventures in the Korean War.



Above: Detail of the MacArthur portrait from the first mural, and Tobey seen working on the underpainting for the mural from one of the many sketches he made as preliminary prototypes for the paintings.






Three photographs of Tobey working on the murals for the memorial, and a  fourth one (lower right) showing him smiling as he imitates the pose of his subject.



Tobey with Mrs. MacArthur and one of the preliminary working drawings for the murals.

Tobey told the group assembled at the presentation of the murals at the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia that they represented a protest against "the absurdity of the universe, the tyranny of time, and the atrocity of death."



The Alton Tobey Collection

Judith Tobey, David Tobey; Directors

All copy & images on this website copyright � Alton Tobey 2004 et al.
No part of this site may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publishers.