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Artist Philip Corley (second from right) stands with his family in front of his painting “Coming Home,” which he donated to the National Museum of the Marine Corps at a ceremony Apr. 20. His sons Tom and Stephen and their mother Geraldine Corley-Donnelly are with him.

Photo by Gwenn Adams

Coming Home finds a home at the National Museum of the Marine Corps

5 May 2016 | Adele Uphaus-Conner Marine Corps Base Quantico

“This painting is a tribute to any service member coming home,” said artist Philip Corley about his 86 x 72-inch oil painting Coming Home.

He has a special spot in his heart for the Marines, however. His brother Thomas, now deceased, served in the Marine Corps in the 1950s and his son Stephen served in the 1990s. Thomas Corley won the American Spirit Honor Medal, the highest honor that can be bestowed to a recruit graduate at Parris Island.

Coming Home vibrantly depicts a color guard of Marines in their dress blues marching down a city street, cheered by throngs of bystanders. A sturdy bulldog trots alongside them.

“I’ve been surrounded by Marines for my whole lifetime,” said Corley. “I wanted to give something for them to be remembered by.”

Corley has donated the painting, which was completed in 2005 and was chosen for the cover of the December 2014 Leatherneck magazine, to the National Museum of the Marine Corps (NMMC). The museum accepted the painting at a ceremony held Apr. 20.

“It’s a beautiful painting,” said the museum’s art curator Joan Thomas. “It’s full of life and all these gorgeous colors. And it depicts this wonderful sentiment of coming home. We’re humbled and grateful to have it.”

“This is a special day for the museum and the art collection,” she said at the donation ceremony.

“The only time I ever saw my father cry is when my brother Stephen went away to train for deployment,” Corley’s son Tom Corley said to the assembled guests. “This painting also represents the families who wait for their loved ones to come home.”

“Everyone around the world who has seen this painting has fallen in love with it,” said John Sexton, a Corley family friend.

Philip Corley’s words were simple. “I’m just glad this painting has found a home,” he said.

Corley was born in Ireland in 1944 and at age 15 was the youngest artist ever to exhibit at the Royal Hibernian Academy. He lived and painted in England, France, Spain (where he and his brother Thomas owned a bar that was frequented by Marines and sailors passing through on their way to Vietnam), Morocco, and the Netherlands, before arriving in the United States. He currently divides his time between Florida and Ireland. His work is found in museums and collections worldwide.

NMMC is in the process of adding new galleries which will double its size. Among those will be the museum’s first formal gallery, where Corley’s painting may be displayed.

— Writer:
Marine Corps Base Quantico