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    Description

    Joe Rosenthal (American, 1911-2006)
    Raising the Flag on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, 1945
    Gelatin silver
    9-1/4 x 7-3/8 inches (23.5 x 18.7 cm)
    Signed by photographer, John Bradley (1923-1994), Rene Gagnon (1925-1979), and Ira Hayes (1923-1955) in ink recto. Annotated in blue pencil "AP Photo Please Credit" and another annotation about Felix de Weldon and Roberta Patterson on verso.

    In 1945 Congress commissioned De Weldon to construct a statue for the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial) in Arlington, Virginia based on the Joe Rosenthal photograph. Starting in 1951 De Weldon spent three years making a full-size model in plaster. Bradley, Gagnon and Hayes posed for him during that time and this is when the photograph was signed. The memorial was dedicated on November 10, 1954.

    The current owner met Joe Rosenthal in 2000 and asked him to add his signature to the photograph. At least three copies of this photograph have turned up at auction signed by Bradley, Gagnon and Hayes but this might be the only one to include Rosenthal's signature as well.

    PROVENANCE:
    Felix de Weldon, sculptor of the United States Marine Corps War Memorial;
    To Felix de Weldon's model Roberta (Joy) Patterson around 1954. Joy married Joseph C. Wells, a labor lawyer who helped formulate the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947;
    To the current owner who was friends with Joseph C. Wells' son Anthony and was given the photograph after Joseph's death in 1985.

    LITERATURE:
    Marine Corp Times, Rosenthal, flag-raisers autographed Iwo pic, by Tom Nugent, April 16, 2007. Article about this photograph.

    Much has been written about this iconic photograph of American patriotism but a brief summation is warranted. On February 19, 1945, the United States invaded Iwo Jima. This was not originally part of the island-hopping strategy to defeat the Japanese but the Philippines fell quickly and there was a lull before the planned invasion of Okinawa. Iwo Jima was considered strategic since it was part of the Japanese early warning system and half-way between the American long-range bombers stationed on the Mariana Islands and the Japanese mainland. Under the direct governance of the Tokyo prefecture a defeat would be considered a dishonor to Japan and the Island was heavily fortified. The small island of 8.1 square miles is dominated by the 546 foot high dormant volcanic cone called Mount Suribachi. Capturing the vantage point of the top of Mount Suribachi was a priority for the Marines and the fighting lasted three days.

    On February 23, 1945 there were two American flag raisings on the top of Mount Suribachi. The first flag was hoisted about 10:30 am. It was decided that the first flag was too small and that a second larger flag should be upraised. Around noon the second flag was uplifted and Rosenthal took this Pulitzer Prize winning photograph. There were six flag-raisers originally identified in the photograph - Ira Hayes, Michael Strank, Franklin Sousley, Rene Gagnon, John Bradley and Harlon Block - only Hayes, Gagnon, and Bradley survived the battle.

    The impact of this photograph at the time cannot be underestimated. The three surviving second flag-raisers, Bradley, Gagnon, and Hayes, met President Truman on April 20, 1945 at the White House and were enlisted to go on the Seventh War Loan Drive to raise money for the war effort.

    Sometime between 1951 and 1953, Bradley, Gagnon and Hayes posed for Felix de Weldon as he sculpted the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

    After the war Ira Hayes battled with alcoholism, returned to the Pima Indian Reservation and died of exposure to cold and alcohol poisoning after a night of drinking on January 24, 1955. Rene Gagnon died on October 12, 1979, at age 54, of a heart attack in the boiler room of an apartment complex where he was working as the head of maintenance in Manchester, New Hampshire.

    In 2016 a Marine Corps review panel decided that while John Bradley had been present at the first and second flag raising, he was misidentified in the photograph all these years and Private First Class Harold Schultz was actually one of the second flag raisers. John Bradley's son, James together with Ron Powers, wrote Flags of Our Fathers in 2000 which was turned into a motion picture by Clint Eastwood in 2006.


    Condition Report*: Sheet is loose; overall yellowing to the sheet; toning along the right and left edges of the sheet, mostly affecting the margin; handling creases throughout the image and margins.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2019
    4th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,526

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