Casualty clearing station

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Amiens Harbonnieres Area, Villers-Bretonneux Area, Villers-Bretonneux
Accession Number ART00198
Collection type Art
Measurement framed: 141.8 x 212.4 x 10.5 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on canvas
Maker Coates, George
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made 1920
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


The model for the stretcher bearer on the right is 3705 Private Ewen Gordon Cameron of 46 Battalion. The model for the figure wearing the cap and assisting the patient onto the stretcher is Albert George Claud Clark, who served in 29 and 46 Battalions. Coates drew upon his experiences as a medical orderly when he painted this work: a dignified scene of a wounded soldier being brought into a casualty clearing station on the Western Front. Coates was living in London and working as a portrait artist when the First World War broke out. He was one of a number of artists, including fellow Australians Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and A Henry Fullwood, who were too old to enlist for active services but who volunteered to work as orderlies with the Royal Army Medical Corps at the 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth, The hospital had been set up in August 1914 and was depicted in another of Coates's major paintings, 'Arrival of first Australians wounded from Gallipoli at Wandsworth Hospital, London'. Coates witnessed the horrific injuries caused by war, and the emotional suffering and despair brought about by the conditions of war. Casualty Clearing Stations were small hospitals, generally located at a railhead or similar transportation hub in forward areas. Their job was to provide emergency treatment and to move casualties back to the stationary and general hospitals
George Coates (1869-1930) studied painting under L. Bernard Hall between 1895-96 acquiring both respect for the painter's craft and the approach of the Munich School. He won a travelling scholarship in 1896 and went to London next year before moving to Paris, where he worked at the Académie Julian and studied under Jean Paul Laurens. In Paris Coates renewed an acquaintance with a fellow art student, Dora Meeson (1869-1955) who later became his wife. Coates and Meeson established themselves in Chelsea, London where they became members of an extensive circle of Australian expatriate artists. Coates established himself as one of London's leading portrait painters, where he lived until returning to Australia in 1921, and his realism and representational style emphasized a harmonious range of low tones, with a detailed and painstaking approach.