Sketching the Skies: Penrose Vass Stout, Alabama’s WWI Artist-Aviator
July 15 through September 10, 2017
Alabamian Penrose Vass Stout left a richly illustrated history of his service as a World War I aviator through his sketchbook and his letters home. Born in Montgomery in 1887, Stout practiced architecture in Florida and New York until enlisting in March 1917. A member of the 1st Pursuit Group, 27th Aero Squadron, he was shot down near Charny during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in September 1918. Stout received the Distinguished Service Cross for attacking a German artillery installation and battling five enemy pilots.
In 2014, Nathaniel Stout donated his grandfather’s sketchbook and letters to the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Exhibited for the first time during the centennial of World War I, this unparalleled collection features detailed sketches of military training, humorous aspects of camp life, the architecture of the French countryside, and Stout’s view from the cockpit. Together, they provide an honest, deeply personal glimpse of the wartime experience through Stout’s unique artistic perspective.
Penrose Vass Stout (American, 1887–1934), Roll Dem Bones, 1918, graphite on paper, Lent by the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama, 2014.0111