Lusitania Sunday and the German note

Accession Number ART02422
Collection type Art
Measurement sheet: 64.8 x 56.2 cm; image: 58.8 x 55.6 cm
Object type Work on paper
Physical description brush and ink, charcoal, pencil, white gouache on paper
Maker Daily Sketch
Place made United Kingdom, United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made 1916
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


This cartoon was published in 'Daily Sketch', London, 8 May 1916, on the anniversary of the sinking of the SS Lusitania, in effect blaming the government of the United States for the sinking and deaths of American civilians by not buying immunity from attack by the German navy. It depicts a number of male and female corpses, on the sea bed, one of whom rises upwards towards a man looking out of a porthole, on the edge of a submarine, calling out a message to the dead below. When published in the 'Daily Sketch' the cartoon was accompanied by the following text; ' The U boat murderer (to American victims): "It's your own fault, your Government would not make it worth our while not to do it!". This cartoon was also published in Dyson's 'War Cartoons' (London, 1916) with this caption; 'This cartoon of the "Lusitania" Anniversary is full of tragic interest and suggestion. It represents the German military authority as being willing to avoid murder if he is properly paid. His idea of proper payment is the sacrifice of British naval sea-power when directed against Germany in the scheme of Blockade with the destruction of the German "Freedom of the Seas" in time of war. The agony and distress of the innocent, haggard victims of German butchery are in suggestive contrast to the blatant, bestial face of the German U-boat Commander above'. 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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