World War II Christmas Card

World War II Christmas Card

University of Wisconsin English Professor Warner Taylor was an accomplished pictorialist photographer working actively during the 1930’s & 40’s. A personal and ephemeral survivor is this 1942 cyan-printed Christmas card (lacking the mailing envelope) featuring the image of a woman (believed to be his daughter Lucia Taylor) holding a glass fishbowl with a puff of smoke emanating from it.

On the outside of the bowl is drawn the white outline of a wolf’s head and “d. ’43“, (signifying death in 1943) along with a bronze replica of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens Victory head at bottom left. This World War II themed photographic image is further printed with the photographer’s name and first names of his wife Clara (Bertram Fuller Taylor) and daughter Lucia (Taylor) along the lower margin flanked by two reindeer: Merry Christmas 1942  |  Clara Lucia Warner Taylor.

On the reverse of the card is a hand-written note written and signed by Warner Taylor to someone named Edith, possibly a sister, and is a fascinating document in itself on the nervous reality that life in America was like on a major university campus (Madison, Wisconsin) in the United States only a year after the U.S. entered the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December, 1941:

Dear Edith,

The strange affair on the other side is the result of a conspiracy between the engraver and the printer. I’m ashamed to send it out. – May be its better than nothing tho.

In the left hand corner is our replica in bronze of Saint-Gaudens’ Victory head.
Edith is again in Florida but without her car. She’ll have plenty of pedestrian company.
And you, Edith? I imagine you’re busy at something as usual. I do hope that what you’re doing finds a solid monthly pay check as its reward.

As for me – routine’ but routine somewhat thrown out of groove. For Madison’s little more than an armed camp, and this university is turned up side down with war obligations.
Lord, how good it’ll be to breathe free air once more and get away from the radio which more and more announces battle, murder, and sudden death.

My very best to you, Edith.




Using family records, author Susan Danly in 2005 penned a fine overview of Taylor’s involvement with pictorial photography which includes the following excerpt:

A typical member of the Pictorialist movement, Warner Taylor (1880-1958) was self-trained as a photographer, but thoroughly conversant with the aesthetics of his medium. An active member of the National Photographic Society, he won numerous prizes in over 180 national competitions.  Raised in Utica, New York, Taylor graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1903 and a Master’s degree in 1905. From 1907 to 1911, he taught in the English Department at Columbia and while in the city, he enjoyed visits to museums, especially The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History.  (1.)

1. excerpt: Susan Danly: ‘Realistic Pictorialism‘ : The Photographs of Warner Taylor: in: ‪Seeing and Beyond‬: ‪Essays on Eighteenth- to Twenty-first Century Art in Honor of Kermit S. Champa‬: 2005: p. 362

World War II Christmas Card

Image Dimensions11.7 x 9.5 cm | 16.2 x 11.8 cm manilla cardstock

Support Dimensionsunmounted