Image copyright: © Australian War Memorial licensed copyright

ID number ART28309.003
Title Not titled [Study of three seated soldiers]
Collection Art
Object type Drawing
Maker Drysdale, Russell (Artist)
Places made
  • Australia
  • Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Date made 1944
Medium pen and black ink on paper
Measurement sheet: 21 x 23.4 cm; image: 11 x 23 cm (irregular)


Illustration for the wartime publication 'The Australian Soldier - A Portrait'. Depicts three seated soldiers from behind, looking out towards the horizon.

In 1944 Russell Drysdale was commissioned to illustrate the wartime publication 'The Australian Soldier - A Portrait' by John Hetherington. Based on the experience of the Sixth Division of the Australian Imperial Forces, the book is an account of the soldiers' experience fighting against the Italians in Libya and later the Germans in Greece. Drysdale produced many illustrations for the publication and revised his selection as he progressed. This drawing was not included in the final selection, yet is representative of the style and execution of those that were.

Drysdale's portraits of Australian servicemen were limited to his vicarious observations. Completely blind in his left eye, he had been deemed unfit for the military service at the outbreak of the war. Still, with a strong sense empathy towards the plight of his fellow countrymen, he explored their experiences from within his artwork. In Not titled [Study of three seated soldiers], the soldiers are depicted from behind, as they gaze off into the distance. Leaving the object of their gaze a mystery, the ominous spiral of black smoke creates a sense foreboding and trepidation within the composition.