The Wild Colonial Boy

Accession Number ART02305
Collection type Art
Measurement sheet: 45.9 x 57 cm; image: 45.9 x 57 cm
Object type Work on paper
Physical description brush and ink, charcoal, crayon, pencil on paper
Place made Western Front
Date made 1916-1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Depicts the body of an unidentified soldier, lying supine on the ground in a war damaged landscape, while shell bursts can be seen in the background. In Dyson's large collection of war works, this is the only one to feature an image of a dead Australian soldier. He captioned this work with a longer title than usual; 'The Wild Colonial Boy: Sooner than dwell in slavery bowed down by iron chains', words taken from the ballad commemorating the legendary bush rangers of Australia's past.

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.