Papuan boy of Fergusson Island

Unit Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit
Place Oceania: New Guinea, Papua New Guinea, Papua, Papuan Islands, D'Entrecasteaux Islands
Accession Number ART96146
Collection type Art
Measurement Sheet: 30.2 x 21.4 cm
Object type Drawing
Physical description pencil on paper
Maker Curtis, R Emerson
Place made New Guinea: Papua New Guinea
Date made 1944
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


Half length portrait of a Papuan Island boy, with separate study of face in profile.

In 1942, Curtis was appointed Officer in Charge of Camouflage in New Guinea. As well as recording the activities of the Australian and American troops, Curtis took every opportunity to visit local villages, creating a series of portraits of Papuan Islanders. Several of these drawings were used to illustrate short articles Curtis contributed to the Australian magazine 'Walkabout', and provide insight into the experiences of the Papuans employed as manual labourers by Australian troops. Generally, the articles were observations on 'native' life, including marriage, wood carving, and body adornment, however Curtis also commented on distinguishing physiological features of individuals from different tribes. Curtis was appointed as an official war artist in March 1945, covering the civil and industrial war effort in Australia.