Skip navigation

Pro Patria: The State Mourns the Memory of Her Dead

by Thomas Gilbert White

Commissioned by Frank Phillips
Dimensions: 216 x 216
Dedicated November 11, 1928

Pro Patria: The State Mourns the Memory of Her Dead by Thomas Gilbert White
Photo by John Jernigan

The Artwork

Pro Patria was commissioned by Bartlesville oilman Frank Phillips to commemorate the tragedies and triumphs of World War I. The central panel represents the courage and sacrifice of a brave soldier answering his country’s call to war. The right and left panels honor fallen soldiers. Thomas Gilbert White painted this massive mural in his Paris studio and meticulously added the names of the 2,735 Oklahoma soldiers who died during WW I.

Dedicated by Governor Henry S. Johnston and Lt. Governor William J. Holloway on Armistice Day, November 11, 1928, the Capitol Rotunda was filled to capacity. At the dedication, White declared, “through these canvases, may the muffled voices from the grave speak to the generations to come of a day when men were not too proud to fight and held life less than their country’s honor.”

The Artist

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Thomas Gilbert White was a world-renowned mural painter. A former student at Columbia University, White spent most of his life in Paris, France, studying with artists Jean Paul Laurens, Benjamin Constant, and James McNeil Whistler. White opened a studio that would become a Paris gathering place for artists. While in Paris, White served as the President of the European chapter of the American Artist Professional League, an organization dedicated to the promotion of high standards of beauty and craftsmanship within the production of art. During World War I, White became a decorated member of the United States Army Reserves. His murals were painted in Paris and then shipped to the U.S. to adorn the walls of the state capitol buildings in Utah and Kentucky as well as the Agricultural Building in Washington, D.C. White’s work can be found among the permanent collections of the Corcoran, the Brooklyn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the City of Paris Museum.