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collections > permanent collections > drawings > milton herbert bancroft
Milton Herbert Bancroft Milton Herbert Bancroft
(American, 1866 or 1867-1947)
Y. Cantine [sic], Bourges, 1919
Charcoal and watercolor on paper, 11” x 15 1/8”
Gift of Joseph and Barbara Mack (2010.072)

Milton Herbert Bancroft was a versatile artist known for his Impressionistic paintings, mural decorations, and a series of remarkable drawings documenting American forces in France during World War I.  The latter are well represented in the Museum’s collection, and include scenes of soldier life as well as picturesque views of medieval French architecture.  Y. Cantine [sic], Bourges is a typical example, and depicts U.S. doughboys resting at a YMCA canteen which has been erected in the courtyard of an old building.  Executed in charcoal with touches of watercolor, the drawing is largely monochromatic, save for the bright red YMCA emblem above the canteen door.  Undoubtedly Bancroft wished to call attention to the YMCA and its services to American soldiers, for it was under the auspices of the “Y” that he had come to France.   There he served as a lead decorator for the organization’s Foyers du Soldat, or “Soldier's Hearths,” which were established to boost the morale of French troops.

Bancroft was born in Massachusetts and studied art in Boston and in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  After a period of teaching at Swarthmore College and the Pennsylvania Academy, the artist traveled to France, where he completed his studies under various French instructors.  Returning to the United States, Bancroft earned reputation for his portrait work in particular.  He also was considered a talented figure painter, and among his major commissions were ten murals for the Court of the Seasons at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.  The artist maintained a studio in New York, and in later years, he lived on a family farm in Sandy Spring, Maryland.