A man

Place Europe: France
Accession Number ART19613
Collection type Art
Measurement framed: 104.6 x 98 cm; Unframed: 92 cm x 75 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on canvas
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1918
Maker Nicholas, Hilda Rix
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Mosman
Date made 1921
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


'The First World War left indelible scars on Hilda Rix Nicholas's psyche and her painting 'A man' is imbued with that experience. Rix Nicholas chose a returned serviceman as the model for 'A man'. But this painting is no mere studio portrait of a stereotypical soldier. 'A man' is a very sensuous rendition in which the act of painting becomes the act of dressing her lost husband who was killed in action in 1916. There is a tactile quality to the brushstrokes which lovingly create pockets, buttons, pouches for ammunition and creases in the sleeve. 'A man' depicts both a named and unnamed ANZAC hero. There is a feeling, also, that the soldier's outer 'skin'; his tin helmet, webbing, ammunition pouches and rifle may ultimately fail as protective armour on the battlefield. The figure is framed by turbulent skies, and this suggests his extremely tenuous hold on survival and the ultimate frailty of humans, irrespective of their battle dress. This is a portrayal of vulnerability as much as it is of strength.' [Text paraphrased from a paper by Catherine Speck, not cited or dated].