Hill 63, Battalion Headquarters, winter

Accession Number ART00169
Collection type Art
Measurement unframed: 20.2 x 25.2 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on wood panel
Maker Bryant, Charles
Place made Belgium: Wallonie, Hainaut, Ploegsteert
Date made 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Painting of Hill 63, the Battalion Headquarters in Belgium during the First World War. The shelter was known as the `Catacombs' (a massive system of underground bivouacs) was dug by the 1st Australian Tunnellling Company in the spring of 1917, and was closer to Ploegsteert (Plugstreet) in Belgium than to Messines. Many Australians found the `catacombs' comfortable to live in during the winter of 1917-18. Hill 63 protected the broad entrance from all gunfire other than long-range howitzers.

Charles Bryant (1883-1937) had some early art lessons before beginning his career as a clerk in the Bank of NSW. In 1908 he travelled to London and studied marine painting at St. Ives in Cornwall. In December 1917 he was appointed as an Official War Artist, attached to the 2nd Division AIF working in France. His commission was terminated in December 1918 and he returned to Australia in 1921 where he undertook further work for Australian War Records. In 1923 he was commissioned by the War Memorial to paint a series of works in connection with the occupation of German New Guinea by Australian troops. From 1924 to 1930, Bryant ran a paint shop in Manly where he was a founder of the Manly Art Gallery in 1924. In 1925 he was commissioned to paint the United States fleet in Sydney Harbour for presentation to the President of the USA.