The drover

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme
Accession Number ART00142
Collection type Art
Measurement framed: 127.5 x 153.5 cm x 11.5 cm x 19 kg
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on canvas
Place made Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made 1919-1920
Conflict Period 1910-1919
First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

Depicts a group of German prisoners being escorted by an Australian soldier on horseback on the Somme battlefield, walking past a windmill on their way to prisoner of war camp in France. This painting was one of several large compositions commissioned by the Australian government after the First World War, when Benson was working with several other artists in St. John's Wood, London. When published in 'Australian Chivalry' (1933) the painting was accompanied by the following text; 'A custom of rural Australia transported to the battlefield of the Western Front is expressed in this painting, which shows a light horseman in charge of a party of German prisoners. The comparatively few men of the Australian Light Horse who served in France... were actually used for police and traffic control duties. Out of their habit of trailing along on horseback behind a flock or herd in Australia, the men automatically reverted to this deeply ingrained practice when detailed to escort parties of prisoners to the rear. It thus became a common sight to see light horsemen lazily bringing up the rear, perhaps whistling quietly, on his slow paced mount, with his party of captive charges strung out raggedly ahead'.