The voice of the tempter

Accession Number ARTV10140
Collection type Art
Measurement sheet: 36.7 x 50.5 cm; image: 34 x 48 cm
Object type Poster
Physical description coloured lithograph on paper
Maker Low, David
Hector Lamond & F J Thomas
John Sands Ltd
Place made Australia
Date made c. 1916-1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright

Item copyright: Copyright unknown

Description

First World War pro-conscription poster by cartoonist David Low. Depicts a war-weary woman sitting at a table with a ballot paper in front of her. The oversized boxes for 'Yes' and 'No' remain blank as she holds a pen up to her mouth, deep in thought. Hovering over her is a monstrously oversized Kaiser trying to sway her vote by pointing to the 'No' box as he whispers words of persuasion in her ear.

This poster was produced as part of the conscription campaign in Australia during the First World War. At the outbreak of war, the Defence Act in Australia supported conscription for home service only, not for service abroad. By 1916, the massive casualties and decline in volunteers saw a desperate shortage in men. Conscription for overseas service was furiously debated in Australia and the then Prime Minister Billy Hughes called two referendums, one in 1916 and another in 1917. Both were defeated, albeit narrowly in 1916. Campaigns for and against were vigilant, each side pushing its cause as more patriotic than the other. This poster also reflects Low's personal belief that the process of voluntary recruitment had become farcical and conscription was the only real means of ensuring a steady stream of recruits.