Famous War Paintings Quiz: Can You Name the War From the Painting?

HISTORY

Tasha Moore

7 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons by Google Cultural Institute

About This Quiz

Take the time to go back in time with the military paintings we present. Identify the wars that changed the course of history portrayed in celebrated works by master artists of yesterday and today. 

Franciso Goya, Winslow Homer, Paul Nash and John Trumbull are just a few of the names you should know when it comes to great historical painters. These artists demonstrated the unique sensitivity required to translate the drama and suspense of major world battles like the American Revolutionary War, World War II and the Napoleonic Wars during the French Revolution. Principalities engaged in conflict were well aware of the powerful impact of well-executed war artwork. Britain and the United States continue to hire war photographers, just as they conscripted painters in older times. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of France gave master portraitist Jacques-Louis David "First Painter" props for the painter's ability to cast his great leader in a victorious light. Britain hired artist Evelyn Dunbar to record World War II for her talent and female perspective. At the same time, chronicling wars in a painterly fashion might have been incidental to an artist's main involvement in a war. Josef Nassy was a prisoner in a World War II internment camp when he illustrated "Laufen."

ID the riveting war experiences of Nassy and other major battle painters now!

Frederic Edwin Church uses a dead tree as a flagpole in this painting. Can you name the correct war?

Civil War artist Frederic Edwin Church painted "Our Banner in the Sky," a patriotic image right after the War commenced in the spring of 1861. Church, a landscape artist, utilized celestial structures in his sky to recreate the American flag.

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The artist of this painting expatriated to Bordeaux, France toward the end of his life. What war did he depict?

Spanish artist Francisco Goya illustrated Napoleon's troops shooting directly at Madrid citizens in "Third of May 1808" (1814). The painter memorialized Spain's resistance to Napoleon Bonaparte's military aggression in this and his other famous painting "Second of May 1808" (1814).

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Artist Xanthus Russell Smith joined the Navy during which war?

Xanthus Russell Smith captured the August 5, 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay in his 1890 portrait of the same battle name. It was Smith's talent for writing that secured his position as clerk to Captain Thomas G. Corbin while Smith served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.

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The 19th-century creator of this painting was also an illustrator. Do you know the war?

Winslow Homer reenacted the siege of Yorktown in his Civil War painting "A Rainy Day in Camp" (1871). Born in Massachusetts in 1836, Homer frequently traveled to the Caribbean, where he was inspired to create bright, tropical watercolors, in stark contrast to his wartime imagery.

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The artist of this painting was 50 years old when which war began?

World War II artist Paul Nash rendered celebrated paintings, such as "Battle of Britain" (1941), "Defence of Albion" (1942) and "Totes Meer" (1941). Pictured here, "Battle of Germany" (1944) is, perhaps, the most prominent of Nash's works.

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John Piper was the war artist who painted this representation. What major war did Piper depict?

Born in 1903, war artist John Piper used his family's secluded cottage as his painting studio. In the 1940s, Piper expressed morbid sentiment for war using watercolors, ink and gouache. "Shelter Experiments" (1943) showcases a Neo-Romantic art style.

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Name the conflict that Thomas Hart Benton portrayed in "The Sowers."

Thomas Hart Benton based "The Sowers" (1942) on the peasant paintings of French artist Jean-Francois Millet. Benton's interpretation was one of eight pieces depicting violence that he made for his "Year of Peril" series.

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Evelyn Dunbar was the only female artist paid for her work at the time. Can you guess the war she chronicled?

Evelyn Dunbar created paintings, like "The Queue at the Fishshop" (1944), that recorded the lives of ordinary women and Women's Land Army recruits. The British War Artists' Advisory Committee commissioned Dunbar for her World War II perspective.

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Do you remember the event that Pablo Picasso documented in this painting?

Spanish artist Pablo Picasso documented the 1937 Nazi Germany aerial bombing of Guernica, a small town in Spain. In 1939, the painter donated the piece titled "Guernica" to the New York Museum of Modern Art.

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This actual painting measures 13 feet wide. What major world event does it portray?

Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein appropriated Korean War and World War II comics in his "Whaam!" (1963) diptych painting to re-create a Vietnam War scene. In Lichtenstein's comic-book setting, a combat pilot shoots down an enemy plane.

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Benjamin West unveiled the painting that you see here 12 years after the ________.

American painter Benjamin West debuted "The Death of General Wolfe" (1770) in London on April 29, 1771. The artist's war portrait renders the death of British General James Wolfe, who was wounded on September 13, 1759 at the Plains of Abraham during the French and Indian Wars.

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The creator of this portrayal was also a poet and printmaker. Do you know the event depicted?

Artist Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson was a student of Jacques Louis David. Girodet's works include "The Revolt of Cairo" (1798), "The Sleep of Endymion" (1791) and "The Spirits of French Heroes Welcomed by Ossian into Odin's Paradise" (1801).

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Gala Dimitrovna Diaharoff accompanied the artist on his first U.S. trip in 1934. Choose the war that his painting documents.

Salvador Dali was a famous surrealist painter. He, like other surrealist artists, explored the unconscious realm. The infinite skulls in Dali's painting "The Face of War" (1940) suggests inevitable infinite death and destruction from war.

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This was Eugene Delacroix's main Paris Salon entry in 1824. Quickly guess the conflict.

"The Massacre at Chios" (1824) documents the aftereffects of the Greek War of Independence. Although his works are celebrated today, French artist Eugene Delacroix was heavily criticized by his contemporaries for a lack of technical skill in his work.

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The Louvre Museum in Paris, France barred the renowned artist Theodore Gericault for brawling in the Grande Galerie. What major world fight did Gericault document?

French painter Theodore Gericault rendered the "Wounded Cuirassier" (1814) a few years after he completed his first major painting, "The Charging Chasseur" (1812). Gericault's work was not as popular during his life as it was after his death.

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This painting depicts Christmas Night, 1776. Do you know the exact war?

Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze captured an image of George Washington crossing the Delaware River to execute a surprise attack on Hessian troops based in Trenton, New Jersey. Leutze's "Washington Crossing the Delaware" (1851) is one of the most recognizable American war paintings.

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This painting of the ________ comprises three large panels.

In "Battle of San Romano" (c. 1450s), Italian painter Paolo Uccello reenacted the 1432 battle of San Romano, a skirmish between the Sienese and the Florentines. Uccello posited Florentine leader Niccolo da Tolentino on the white horse.

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Altdorfer's works are often viewed as religious narratives. Do you recognize the war shown in his painting?

German artist Albrecht Altdorfer painted a 333 B.C. battle of a thousand warriors that includes Alexander the Great in "The Battle of Alexander at Issus" (1529). The artist's fascination with astronomical objects, like novas, comets and stellar flares, is evident in the war portrait.

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"The Surrender of Breda" was showcased at Madrid's Buen Retiro Palace. Take a guess at the major conflict memorialized here.

The Spanish encounter the Dutch in 17th-century court painter Diego Velazquez's "The Surrender of Breda" (1634-1635). In the image, Dutch general Justin of Nassau offers Spanish commander Ambrosio Spinola the key of Breda.

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Copley was considered the most skilled American portrait artist of his genre. Can you ID the war he depicted here?

John Singleton Copley's historical painting "The Death of Major Peirson" (1781) records the moment when British Major Francis Peirson was slain after forging a counterattack against French forces, who were aiding America, seizing Jersey in the English Channel. The British declared victory at the time of Peirson's death.

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The artist of this image set up a studio in Theodosia, Russia. What is the conflict rendered here?

Armenian-Russian painter Ivan Aivazovsky memorialized the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829 in his 1892 seascape titled "Brig 'Mercury' Attacked by Two Turkish Ships." The prolific artist finished approximately 6,000 portraits from his Black Sea port studio.

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The battle in this historical painting by Aivazovsky's took place in 1770. Can you determine the war?

In 1848, Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky memorialized a nighttime sea battle scene in "The Battle of Chesme on 25-26 June 1770." The Russians were dominant aggressors in their fight against the Turks, whom the Russians had cornered in Chesme Bay.

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The defeated ship in Manet's image used to hunt down merchant boats of the opposing side. Identify Manet's war subject.

In "The Battle of the Kearsarge and the Alabama" (1864), French painter Edouard Manet chronicled the Battle of Cherbourg, which took place on June 19, 1864 off the shores of Cherbourg, France. The U.S.S. Kearsarge sank the Confederate's Alabama warship after two hours of battle.

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"The Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, September 1782" is a large 18-by-25-foot painting of the ________.

American artist John Singleton Copley beat master painter Benjamin West to win a commission from the Corporation of London to translate the siege of Gibraltar in the war portrait "The Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, September 1782" (1783-1791). The siege began in 1779.

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A 19th-century portraitist painted "The Battle of Gettysburg: Repulse of Longstreet's Assault, July 3, 1863." Do you know the major fight represented?

James Walker's "The Battle of Gettysburg: Repulse of Longstreet's Assault, July 3, 1863" (c. 1864-1870) had been a private collector's piece for many years after it was created. The Johnson Collection acquired the battle painting in 2004 from art dealer Rob Hicklin.

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The painting that you see is classified as a "Lost Cause" image of the ________.

William D. Washington memorialized the burial of a Confederate officer in "The Burial of Latané" (1864). The 29-year-old cavalry soldier was killed in June 1862 during J. E. B. Stuart's ride around McClellan's troops that occurred during the Peninsula Campaign.

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At one point, philanthropist Allan Jones purchased the "W" painting. Do you know which war it memorialized?

Frank Schoonover's 1919 war portrait titled "Sergeant Alvin C. York" is of a Tennessee war hero. Corporal York demonstrated great bravery during the First World War when he commanded a group of 17 American soldiers in an ambush of Argonne in France.

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Leger's war paintings were huge. Can you guess the conflict?

French artist Fernand Léger created the Modernist-styled "La Partie de cartes" ("The Card Game") (1917) while recovering from a German mustard gas attack. Léger had spent a few years fighting in Argonne before his injury.

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Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte gave Jacques-Louis David the title "First Painter." Which conflict was he famous for portraying?

"Napoleon Crossing the Alps" (1801) is arguably French painting master Jacques-Louis David's most successful piece. The portrait is a reenactment of Napoleon Bonaparte crossing the Alps toward a victorious battle at Marengo against Austrian troops.

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Despite being blind in one eye from a childhood injury, John Trumbull rendered impressive ________ imagery.

Lebanon, Connecticut native John Trumbull painted an intimate portrayal of a military major general in "General George Washington at Trenton" (1792). As a soldier in the Continental Army, Trumbull had served as aide-de-camp to Washington in 1775 for a brief period.

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For "The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777," the artist had the general's actual son pose for him. What war is this scene from?

Art historians contend that General George Washington is depicted inaccurately in American artist John Trumbull's "The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777" (c. 1787-1831). Way before the colonies revolted, Brigadier General Hugh Mercer was considered a fearless rebel.

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"The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec, December 31, 1775" was one of the painter's first successful war portraits. Guess the war.

John Trumbull illustrated a scene from the Canadian campaign of the American Revolution in "The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec, December 31, 1775" (1786). During the Battle of Quebec, General John Montgomery invaded Canada and seized Montreal.

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Pieter Snayers was designated official painter for the Habsburgs. What war did Snayers focus on?

Flemish painter Pieter Snayers emphasized Austrian resilience in "The Battle of White Mountain" (1620). The victory in Bohemia emboldened the Habsburg rulers to consolidate power throughout the Empire.

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This painter's goal was to memorialize the victories of his imperial commissioner. Are you aware of the war?

In "The Siege of Aire-Sur-La-Lys" (1653), artist Pieter Snayers depicted the Battle of La Marfee that transpired during the Thirty Years' War. Snayers commissioned the aid of cartographers and military strategists to help render the most victorious panoramic imagery possible for the Habsburg Empire.

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The artist who went by the name "Foujita" is responsible for this work that chronicles _______.

Controversial artist Fujita Tsuguharu's mastery of both Japanese and Western art styles is evident in "Final Banzai Charge against the Americans on Attu Island" (1943). "Foujita" achieved fame for his paintings in the West during the early 20th century.

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The British Army and the Royal Navy were two of artist Eric Henri Kennington's clients. Can you identify the conflict he covered?

English artist Eric Henri Kennington offered an intimate platoon portrait in his World War I depiction "The Kensingtons at Laventie" (1915). Several of Kennington's soldiers in the image suffer from extreme exhaustion due to the war.

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This painter made it his job to create detailed portraits of equipment and ships while at the Royal Navy Base in Chatham. Pick Eric Ravilious's war shown here.

"Morning on the Tarmac" (1941), by English artist Eric Ravilious, captured the final days of the H.M.S. Glorious, an aircraft carrier that sank off the Norwegian coast in June 1940. The ship met its fate amid controversial circumstances.

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