Accession Number ARTV00042
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 51 x 38 cm
Object type Poster
Physical description chromolithograph on white varnished paper
Maker Lindsay, Norman
Government of Australia
Chas. Steele and Co.
Place made Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Date made c. 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Poster depicts a German ogre, his blood-covered hands and forearms clutching at a globe of the world. Blood pours over Europe and oozes over other countries, demonstrating the potential calamity should the German menace spread. The first of a series of posters drawn by Norman Lindsay for the last of the nationwide Australian recruiting campaign in 1918, '?' constitutes one of the rare examples in war poster art produced without a letterpress. An excellent instance of the crude caricature and vilification of the enemy, and in keeping with Lindsay's portrayal of 'the Hun' in his many cartoons for the 'Sydney 'Bulletin' at the time. '?' was distributed surreptitiously, and pasted up throughout Australia on a designated night. The design, also known as 'The Ogre' or 'German Monster', appeared on one of the leaflets issued in conjunction with the six posters. The appearance of '?' provoked some protest in parliament, and the Minister for Recruiting, R. B. Orchard, was asked to withdraw it in October 1918. However, previous to this, (in early 1918), Orchard had gathered together Lindsay's posters as part of a 'Recruitment kit', which included a film made using Lindsay's German monster, and also letters inveighing the reader to join. The kit, which included Lindsay's posters, film, letters calling for recruits,and instructions for the rural and metropolitan press, represent a sophisticated and targeted mass media engagement with the populace. Norman Lindsay (1879-1970) was a painter, draughtsman, illustrator, cartoonist, printmaker, writer and sculptor. He joined the Sydney 'Bulletin' magazine as a staff artist, 1901-09, 1910-23 and 1932-58.

Recruitment posters were in abundant supply in Australia throughout the First World War. Australia relied solely on voluntary recruits to serve in the AIF. Compulsory military service, or conscription, for eligible men was in force in Australia from 1911, however, these forces were for home defence and could not be used to serve in a war overseas. Following the initial rush of men to recruit in 1914, enrolments dropped, leaving federal and state governments to devise sophisticated campaigns to boost numbers.

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