California oil wells are illustrated while an airplane flies above in this original art by Robert Benney. It was painted to illustrate the great importance that oil wells had in fueling the Allied victory in World War II with their reliable source of energy for the vast American army of airplanes and ships.
Robert Benney, an American illustrator best known for his military art and portraits of prominent persons, studied at the Cooper Union Art School, Art Students League, National Academy of Design, and Grand Central Art School. He began his career in New York City in the 1920’s by sketching stars of the stage and screen for New York newspapers. He later served the U.S. military as a combat artist in the Pacific during World War II where he covered a broad range of subjects including medicine, amphibious operations and naval aviation. In 1968-70, he served again as a military illustrator during the Vietnam War for the Marines. Books containing his artwork include Life’s Picture History of World War II (1950), Our Flying Navy—James Jones’ World War II, Men Without Guns. He also made illustrations for a wide variety of corporate clients, including oil companies such as Shell Oil and Standard Oil, the major U.S. automakers, United Aircraft, IBM, General Foods, and Western Electric. He illustrated for major magazines such as Reader’s Digest, Time, Life and Fortune. During his lifetime he exhibited at the National Academy of Design, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, the DeYoung Memorial Museum, the Carnegie Institute and many other major American museums. His paintings are in numerous public collections today, including the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps art collections, the De Young Museum of Art, and the Corcoran Gallery.
Gilbert, Dorothy B. Who’s Who in American Art. New York: R.R. Bowker, 1959. p. 43.
Hollister, Dean, ed. Who’s Who in American Art. New York: R.R. Bowker, 1989. p. 76.