Image copyright: Copyright expired - public domain
Public Domain Mark This image is in the Public Domain

ID number ART41020
Title Somme winter
Collection Art
Object type Diorama
  • Anderson, Wallace (Artist)
  • McCubbin, Louis (Artist)
  • Modelling Sub-section, Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne (Cast by)
Place made Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Date made 1923-1926
Medium figures: dry colour on composite lead; background: synthetic polymer paint on fibreglass reinforced polyester resin; modelling: paint, plaster over wood and wire with cloth, wood and metal
Measurement Overall: 400 cm x 730 cm x 215 cm
On display Main building: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1917


The scene shown in this diorama is near a sunken road, “Fritz’s Folly”, mainly held by the Germans and taken and lost in some of the most difficult fighting of the war. It illustrates the appalling conditions in which both sides lived and fought on the Somme during the dreadful winter of 1916-17. The constant bombardments of the summer and autumn had pulverised the soil and the abnormal rainfalls which ushered in the winter reduced it to mud, almost impassable until duckboard tracks were eventually laid. The scene in this trench is typical. It shows a man carrying a duckboard to floor the trench, the arrival of rations, a man taking precautions against trench feet, a Lewis gun post, sentries standing-to, and a derelict tank bogged in the mud. The diorama re-creates the general air of exhaustion and depression that permeated life in this environment. Louis McCubbin painted the original figures, background and modelling. Figures were cast into metal in 1931. The background was repainted by George Browning in 1968 and retouched by Don Evans in 1990-91.