spacer George S. Patton, Jr. George S. Patton, Jr.
World War II General

Nicknamed "Old Blood and Guts," General George S. Patton's penchant for colorful commentary and outspokenness frequently made him the object of controversy during his long and impressive career. Born in San Gabriel, California, he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1909. He first went to Europe in 1917 as part of General John J. Pershing's staff, where he directed the American Tank Center in France and was head of the 304th Brigade of the Tank Corps.

His experience with tanks led General Dwight Eisenhower to place him in charge of one of the three task forces invading North Africa during World War II. Subsequently, Patton trained and supervised the successful landing of the Seventh Army in Sicily. But his finest moment came during the massive German counteroffensive in the Ardennes in 1944 and 1945. By the time the Allies had repelled the Germans there, his reputation as one of the most brilliant field commanders of the war was unassailable.

Patton sat for Boleslaw Czedekowski, a Polish artist who had painted many European notables, at his military headquarters in Germany shortly after the German surrender in May 1945. A stickler on military dress, he wears the ivory-handled pistol that was one of his sartorial trademarks.

Boleslaw Jan Czedekowski (1885-1969)
Oil on canvas, 1945
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gift of Major General George S. Patton

Enlarged image

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