The latest post from the indispensable Camoupedia recounts the career of Gerome Brush, an artist with whom I was previously unfamiliar. His anonymity is undeserved, however, as he played an instrumental role in the advent of military camouflage; he helped fellow artist Abbott Handerson Thayer patent the first concept for the visual concealment of ships in 1902, an innovation that was later put to excellent use in the bedazzling of World War I naval vessels. There is perhaps no greater example of the practical application of artistic skill.
An expert of camouflage history would surely argue, however, that Thayer deserves greater credit. It was his 1909 book Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom (co-authored with his son, Gerald) that is considered the foundational work of this highly functional art form; I highly recommend this painting of the male ruffled grouse as the perfect way to understand the thought process that led Thayer to his eureka moment.