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Griffith Baily Coale

1890-1950

Coale, born in Baltimore, studied at the Maryland Institute (now the Maryland Institute College of Art) from 1909 to 1911. He then traveled to Paris to study with Richard Miller and William Laparra, where he concentrated on mural painting. Coale's work was selected for the Paris Salon in 1913 and 1914. He continued his studies in Germany, Italy and Spain, then returned to Baltimore in 1914.

He worked professionally as an artist until 1917 when he served in World War I as a marine camoufleur for the U.S. Shipping Board. In the early 1920s, Coale moved to New York where he painted portraits and murals, including commissions from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Building and the Brooklyn Borough Gas Company. In 1932, Coale and R. McGill Mackall painted murals in the Baltimore Trust Building.

In 1941, Coale approached Admiral Chester Nimitz and recommended placing artists on Navy ships to observe and document combat and other operations. This recommendation led to the establishment of the Navy Combat Art program. Coale was commissioned a Lieutenant Commander and served until 1948, achieving the rank of Commander. He authored two books about his experiences during World War II, North Atlantic Patrol and Victory at Midway.

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