Columbia to the Kaiser

Accession Number ART02417
Collection type Art
Measurement sheet: 63.9 x 46 cm; image: 63.6 x 46 cm
Object type Work on paper
Physical description brush and ink, charcoal, pencil, white gouache on paper
Place made United Kingdom
Date made 1915
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Depicts the figures of a Prussian officer, holding his helmet in his left hand, the female figure of Columbia, standing holding a sword and the female figure of Humanity, with wings and a small child resting on her lap. The cartoon was published in 'The Nation', London, on 19 June 1915, with the following caption; 'Coumbia to the Kaiser: - "What Humanity dictates, that shall I perform". Prussia: - "Humanity, Madam! Humanity!! This is gross partisanship". From 1915, a number of Dyson's caricatures were published, characterised by his response to Germany's military monarchy. Using a figure loosely based on the Kaiser, Dyson identified the 'common enemy' and attacked it with vigour. When some of his anti-German cartoons were published in 1915, they were accompanied by the following foreword; 'Mr. Dyson...responds to all the fearful pressure of this war in cartoons. He perceives a militaristic monarchy and national pride a threat to the world, to civilisation, and all that he holds dear, and straightaway he sets about to slay it with his pencil...he turns his passionate gift against Berlin." Will Dyson was the first Australian official war artist to visit the front during the First World War, travelling to France in December 1916, remaining there until May 1917, making records of the Australian involvement in the war. He was formally appointed as an official war artist, attached to the AIF, in May 1917, working in France and London throughout the war. His commission was terminated in March 1920.

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