Illustration for the wartime publication 'The Australian Soldier - A Portrait'. Depicts rear view of seated soldier wearing a steel helmet.
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 seated soldier], the soldier is depicted from behind gazing off into the distance. While the object of his gaze remains a mystery, the heavy etching capturing the figure in shadow evokes a sense of vague unease within the composition.