Image copyright: © Australian War Memorial licensed copyright

ID number ART28309.005
Title Australian and Greek soldier
Collection Art
Object type Drawing
Maker Drysdale, Russell (Artist)
Place made Australia
Date made 1944
Medium pen and black ink on paper
Measurement sheet: 23.4 x 20.2 cm; image: 19.6 x 12 cm (irregular)


Illustration for the wartime publication 'The Australian Soldier - A Portrait'. Depicts two Allied soldiers leaning in toward one another. The Australian soldier is smoking and is offering a cigarette to the Greek soldier.

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. Defeated in battle in Greece, the Sixth Division was made to retreat and travel long distances to safety alongside the Greek refugees.

Drysdale seldom used any violent physical action to describe the experience of the Sixth Division. In 'Australian and Greek soldier' he focuses on casual yet familiar interaction of two soldiers sharing a cigarette. Applying loose line work to evoke a sense of weight and volume of the men, he captures their essence in just a few gestural strokes. Trained as a modernist painter under George Bell, he was taught the importance of studying his subjects until he could reduce them to their simplest form and draw them from memory.