Robert Benney 1904-2000

An instructor at Dutchess Community College for ten years, Robert Benney is nationally renowned as a painter and illustrator of American combat. Born in Romania, he was brought to New York as a toddler and became a steadfast New Yorker. He studied at the Art Students League, and also taught at the Pratt Institute. He began showing his work in 1933 with an exhibition of theater drawings at the Museum of the City of New York.

When the United States entered World War II, combat artists added another dimension to what the public at home gleaned from grainy newsreels and still photos. Benney became one of the accredited civilian correspondents who went into battle to paint and draw the reality as well as the raw emotions in what they witnessed. He moved with the troops to cover land, sea, and amphibious operations at Saipan and the Marianas. The combat art collections of all four armed services in Washington contain examples of Benney’s work.

His portraits of war and peace have found permanent homes at the Corcoran Gallery and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the Dallas Museum of Fine Art, the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, and the Society of Illustrators in Manhattan. His stark oils and watercolors were among the works of combat art featured on public television in the documentary, “They Drew Fire.”