Self portrait

Accession Number ART19759
Collection type Art
Measurement framed: 74.9 x 64.8 cm; unframed: 61.4 x 50.8 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on canvas
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made 1932
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Self portrait of James Fraser Scott, appointed an Official War Artist and in Charge of Camouflage attached to 1st Division AIF in 1918, Western Front, 50th Battalion, Australian War Records Section. In the last years of his life, Scott was destitute and suffered greatly. His self-portrait was referred to in an article in the Dunedin, New Zealand newspaper, 'The Evening Star', (2 December 1933), which noted; 'The pain which Scott suffered in his last few years is pathetically portayed in a vivid self portrait...the eyes show evidence of acute suffering. The artist himself depicted in that portrait his own pain'. James Fraser Scott's (1877- 1932) official war art is particularly informative, both due to his experiences as a soldier who had seen active service in the First World War, and also because of his physical proximity to key battles. He was selected from the ranks of soldiers in May 1918 to work as an artist with the Australian War Records Section, and was able to quickly interpret and record crucial moments in Australian military history. Scott was a highly trained artist. Following his time at the Dunedin School of Art in New Zealand, he received an extensive art education in Europe. During the 1890s he travelled to Paris, studying at the Academie Julian and subsequently in Munich, Antwerp and Italy. Enlisting in the 50th Battalion, AIF, in May 1916, he served in France; he later sustained injuries to his hand and neck in September 1916 at Zonnebeke. Following this, Scott suffered from poor health, and contemporaries believed the illnesses and injuries he incurred during the war contributed to his death. After he was seconded to work with the Australian War Records Section, Scott initially worked as Officer in Charge of Camouflage attached to the 1st Division AIF. In order to record military life he then accompanied the AIF through numerous engagements in France in 1918 - 1919. Scott was also an accomplished illustrator before the war, and during the conflict produced numerous black and white illustrations about life in the army. In 1918, he contributed pieces to the short-lived publication about the AIF in Europe, 'The Dinkum Australian'. Following armistice, Scott worked in a studio at St John's Wood with fellow Australian War Records artists Will Longstaff, Frank Crozier and George Benson. After his commission ended in 1920, Scott subsisted on a small war pension in London, and struggled to make a living as an artist.