Australian and Greek soldier
ID numberART28309.005
Collection typeArt
TitleAustralian and Greek soldier
Measurementsheet: 23.4 x 20.2 cm; image: 19.6 x 12 cm (irregular)
Object typeDrawing
MakerDrysdale, Russell
Place madeAustralia
Date made1944
Physical descriptionpen and black ink on paper
CopyrightAWM Licensed copyright
DescriptionIllustration 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.