Archibald Willard

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Archibald Willard
Born Archibald MacNeal Willard
(1836-08-22)August 22, 1836
Bedford, Ohio, U.S.
Died October 11, 1918(1918-10-11) (aged 82)
Nationality American
Known for Painting
Notable work The Spirit of '76 (c. 1875)

Archibald MacNeal Willard (August 22, 1836 – October 11, 1918) was an American painter who was born and raised in Bedford, Ohio. He was the son of Samuel Willard, the pastor of Bedford Baptist Church, and his wife.[1][2]

Willard joined the 86th Ohio Infantry in 1863 and fought in the American Civil War. During this time, he painted several scenes from the war and forged a friendship with photographer James F. Ryder. Willard painted The Spirit of '76 about 1875 in Wellington, Ohio, after he saw a holiday parade pass through the town square.[3] Willard also painted three murals in the main hall of the Fayette County courthouse in Washington Court House, Ohio: The Spirit of Electricity, The Spirit of Telegraphy, and The Spirit of the Mail.

Willard is buried in Wellington, Ohio at the Greenwood Cemetery.[4] He is commemorated by a Willard Drive in his birthplace of Bedford and a Willard Avenue in nearby Garfield Heights named after him.

The Spirit of '76[edit]

The Spirit of '76 (aka Yankee Doodle)
Sprit of '76.2.jpeg
Artist Archibald MacNeal Willard
Year circa 1875
Type oil
Dimensions 61 cm × 45 cm (24 in × 18 in)
Location Abbot Hall in Marblehead, Massachusetts[5]

Willard's most famous work is The Spirit of '76 (previously known as Yankee Doodle), which was exhibited and widely seen at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1876. The original is displayed in Abbot Hall, Marblehead, Massachusetts. Several later variations painted by Willard have been exhibited around the country (including in the United States Department of State). Of note, he used his father, Samuel Willard, as the model for the middle character of the painting.[6] Willard developed the painting from a sketch, which included three men dancing and singing. He also made several other works of art, including The Blue Girl, Pluck, and others not as recognized.

Representation in other media[edit]

  • In July 1939 the cover of Mickey Mouse Magazine featured a parody of the painting with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy substituted for the soldiers. The art was adapted by Disney in 1975 as part of the logo for America on Parade at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. It was the basis for the design of the opening float in the parade.
  • On the comedy album Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America Volume One: The Early Years (1961), the track "Yankee Doodle Go Home (Spirit of '76)" features the "hip" fife player and younger drummer objecting to the "square" playing of the older drummer.
  • In the 1963 WWII film The Great Escape, Hilts (Steve McQueen) and Hendley (James Garner) are seen celebrating the 4th of July in a German POW camp. They wake up the camp in the morning by playing of "Yankee Doodle" and are dressed similarly to the characters in the painting.
  • Kurt Vonnegut referred to the painting in his novel Slaughterhouse Five (1969), in a passage where the protagonist Billy Pilgrim walks through a POW camp near Dresden. Billy is thus described: "Billy was carrying his little coat as though it were a lady's muff. It was wrapped around and around his hands. He was the central clown in an unconscious travesty of that famous oil painting, The Spirit of '76."[citation needed]


  1. ^ " - Ohio Town Develops Own 'Scent-Sibility' - Celebrity Gossip". Fox News. 2006-11-26. Archived from the original on 2008-08-05. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  2. ^ Caldwell, Janet (2012). Images of America: Bedford and Bedford Township. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 0738593699. 
  3. ^ Arndt, Ursula; Giblin, James (2001). Fireworks, Picnics, and Flags: The Story of the 4th of July Symbols. New York: Clarion Books. pp. 41–43. ISBN 0-618-09654-X. 
  4. ^ Vigil, Vicki Blum (2007). Cemeteries of Northeast Ohio: Stones, Symbols & Stories. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59851-025-6
  5. ^ "Marblehead's Spirit of 76 Painting". Spirit of 765. Town of Marblehead, Massachusetts. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Caldwell, Janet (2012). Images of America: Bedford and Bedford Township. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 0738593699. 

External links[edit]