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 Anthony Battillo  (1917 - )

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: combat artist, illustrator, marine, history painter

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An example of work by Anthony Battillo
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following, submitted December 2006, is from Peter Kostoulakos, AOA, NEAA:  Fine Art Consultant,

Anthony Battillo — combat artist, technical illustrator, art director, writer, marine and historical painter — was born in Brooklyn, NY on June 7, 1917 and, as of December 15, 2006 at 89, is still working in pencil and pen & ink at his home studio in Hyde Park, NY.  He and his wife Lillian were married in 1948.  They have two children, Robert and Diana, and three grandchildren, Melanie, Kristin, and Matthew.

With the support and encouragement of his mother, and with the color pencil set and drawing pad she provided, Battillo began to develop his talent at a very early age. When he reached high school, he was sure to sign up for the art-general course so he could get as much training and practice as possible.  After high school he went to New York City and enrolled at the Art Students League.  There he had the good fortune to study under William C. McNulty (1889-1963), an illustrator and etcher with over three decades of experience in magazine and newspaper illustration. McNulty taught drawing composition and figure drawing with live models, a course of study that later aided Battillo as an army combat artist and illustrator.

In his early school years he studied the many styles and schools of fine art in order to aid in his understanding of the Old Masters he so much appreciated and admired. Battillo went on to study industrial art to not only to enhance his his rendering abilities, but also to broaden his illustrative career.  This enabled him to earn a good living illustrating machines and machine parts, and freelancing for magazines and newspapers.

Right after Pearl Harbor was attacked, the 24-year-old artist enlisted in the army and, after basic training, became part of an engineering section of IV Corp Headquarters. Battillo was involved in drawing map overlays and his topographical renderings provided combat maps for the U.S. Army command.  Later, in Italy, the 27-year old soldier was assigned duty as a combat artist to record campaigns with his illustrations. As stated by John Davis of the Poughkeepsie Journal, Sergeant Battillo was "sketching history in the making" as one of 100 servicemen and civilian combat artists rendering the final months of the Nazi campaign.  Rough sketches were done in the field and the finished renderings were done in a tent next to a lamp.   His most memorable sketches were of the final 19-day campaign between April 14 and May 2, 1945, leading to the surrender of more than 150,000 enemy troops. Battillo said: "They were tickled pink to surrender."

After the war, Battillo continued to work in industry, freelance for newspapers and magazines, and sell his ship and historical paintings to private collectors.  Later, in1950, in spite of contracting polio the year before, he secured a management position in the Publications department at IBM.  During his 27-year career at IBM he managed 37 commercial artists and layout designers responsible for producing technical manuals and illustrations.

His retirement years have seen a recurrence of polio, two shoulder replacement operations in 1997, and eye surgery in September of 2005. Notwithstanding his physical ailments, which keep him in a wheelchair and homebound most of the time, he still works in pencil and ink. "Yet, despite the physical setback, I feel I had a very successful and satisfying life, and I am not ready to sit back and do nothing!" exclaims Battillo.

Battillo's work is represented in the New York State Military Museum, Saratoga, NY; the U.S. Army Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, PA; the Soldiers National Museum, Gettysburg, PA; the Veterans of Foreign Wars Headquarters, Kansas City, MO; and the Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, PA.

His work was published in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine, and his illustrations appear throughout The Final Campaign Across Italy, a U.S. Army publication printed in Milano, Italy in 1945.  Copies are filed in Carlisle Barracks, PA for use by researchers and historians.  Battillo's Civil War paintings have appeared on the cover and inside of specialty magazines like the Civil War Times Illustrated and the tri-state newspaper, Harbor Watch.  As a scholar of the Civil War, Battillo composes the text for the scenes he illustrates. His writing is said to be as detailed and colorful as his art.

References: Artist's resume, August 2005; Battillo letter dated August 24, 2005; John Davis, "Hyde Park man shares memories," Poughkeepsie Journal, May 15, 2005; Ted & Stella Couris, Lowell, MA.

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