Italian painter of Jewish heritage, Cagli was a leading exponent of the 'Nuova Scuola Romana' of the 1930s and 1940s. In 1938, Cagli flew to Paris and later to New York where he became an American citizen, enlisted in the US Army. While in the military Camp at San Luis Obisbo (CA), Cagli exhibited some of his works at the Civic Center Museum of San Francisco (1941) and then a larger exhibition of his murals at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum (February 1942). In presenting the exhibition, Robert Neuhaus wrote: "The subject matter of the painting is, throughout, martial and ingeniously combines phases of ancient combat with present-day army life to create a heroic form." The two drawings from the Musuem's collection (inv. nos. 42.53-54) where gifted by Cagli after the closing of the exhibition.