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John Wheat Papers

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 25 Jan 2011

Biographical History

John Potter Wheat (1920-1980) was an American painter known for his landscapes and mural paintings. As Official Combat Artist for Vietnam, many of his paintings had military themes.

Wheat studied at the Art Students League and the Yale School of Fine Arts, and his work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum, Chicago Art Institute, Corcoran Gallery, and National Academy of Design, among others. He received numerous awards over his career: the American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Prize, the American Watercolor Society Silver Medal, and the Allied Artists of American Gold Medal, and more than 25 other national and international awards.

Wheat served in World War II in the Office of Strategic Services, and was the Offical Combat Artist in Vietnam for the Chief of Military History. Several of his pieces reside in the United States Army Historical Collection in Washington, D.C.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The John Wheat Papers contains artwork, biographical material and printed material.

Artwork contains numerous original pen-and-ink and color sketches and drawings, along with photographs of many other drawings and of Wheat's paintings. There is also a folder of photographs of paintings annotated with information about their then-current locations and owners. Many of the paintings represent Vietnam subject matter -- soldiers, tanks, battles, marching troops, POWs, and more.

Biographical material contains awards and certificates, including a photocopy of a U.S. Army "Certificate of Appreciation for Patriotic Civilian Service" and an original certificate from the Royal Academy for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in London, naming Wheat a Fellow of the Academy. Also included here is Wheat's typed diary from November to December of 1968, recording his experiences in Vietnam as Offical Combat Artist, and some miscellaneous items such as a biographical sketch and a few photos of him in Vietnam.

Correspondence consists of an assortment of letters from galleries, museums, art dealers and similar individuals. Most of the letters document or announce awards and recognitions Wheat received.

Printed material contains clippings about Wheat and a number of exhibit announcements and catalogs.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is in chronological order. Material in the other series is in no particular order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Vassos, John, 1898-1989.
Wheat, John Potter.

Corporate Bodies

United States. -- Army -- Art collections.


Combat -- 20th century -- Pictorial works.
Mural painting and decoration -- United States -- 20th century.
Painters -- United States.
Painting, American -- 20th century.
Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Personal narratives.
Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Pictorial works.
War in art.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Drawings (visual works)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John Wheat Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of John Wheat, 1966, 1970.

Table of Contents


Biographical material


Printed material