General Monash saluting the Cenotaph

Place Europe: United Kingdom, England, Greater London, London
Accession Number ART12209
Collection type Art
Measurement framed: 135.5 cm x 110.8 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on canvas
Maker Coates, George
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London, Kensington & Chelsea, Chelsea
Date made 1927
Conflict Period 1920-1929
First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Depicts General Sir John Monash saluting the Cenotaph. Sir John Monash (1865-1931) was a soldier, engineer and administrator, was born on 27 June 1865 in West Melbourne. From 1 June 1913 he was appointed to command the 13th Infantry Brigade, as colonel. As a general, Monash had the first essential qualities, the capacity to bear great strain and to make quick and clear decisions. His sheer intellect, breadth of grasp, his articulateness especially, together with his forceful personality, induced respect and confidence among his juniors.

After the First World War, he was the natural spokesman for returned soldiers. He took command of the Special Constabulary Force during the police strike of November 1923 and chaired the subsequent royal commission. From 1925 he led Melbourne's Anzac Day march and from 1927 was its chief organizer. The cause closest to his heart in his last years was the Shrine of Remembrance of which he was in practice chairman of the constructing body. In the 1920s Monash was broadly accepted, not just in Victoria, as the greatest living Australian. The soldiers had to have a representative hero who was a volunteer; he was acceptable to the community as a seemingly unpretentious outsider.He achieved greatness essentially as an administrator.

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.