J. F. Scott, 'Mont St Quentin', 1918, Reference number ART03369 James F Scott, Mont St Quentin, 1918, ART03369

Date of birth: 24 September 1877
Place of birth: Roslyn, New Zealand
Date of death: 25 April 1932
Place of death: London, England, United Kingdom

Scott's 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.

Selected from the ranks of soldiers in May 1918 to work as an artist with the Australian War Records Section, Scott was able to quickly interpret and record crucial moments in Australian military history.

He reportedly produced Mont St. Quentin one hour after the hill was taken by the 2nd Australian Division, and portrayed Bayonvillers three days into the offensive.

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 had a somewhat difficult period in France before his commission came through, and, in August 1918, was arrested by the Camp Commandant after he refused to direct traffic. Official historian C.E.W. Bean reported in his diary that the order had come "on the top of a good deal else which had wrought upon his feelings." Although Scott resigned his post, his work was held in high regard by Bean and his resignation was ignored.

J. F. Scott, 'Corbie Abbey showing effects of shellfire', 1918, Reference number ART03370 James F Scott, Corbie Abbey showing effects of shellfire, 1918, ART03370

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. In this publication he displayed an interesting and well-developed illustrative manner, using clear lines in the Art Deco style. In 1919, he illustrated A Handful of Ausseys, a written account by C. Hampton Thorp of life in the AIF.

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. Here he completed numerous works which are now held by the Memorial. After his commission ended in 1920, Scott subsisted on a small war pension in London, and struggled to make a living as an artist.

His impoverished death, which was described by The Sydney Morning Herald as "pathetic," attracted much attention in the media. Public sympathy in Australia and New Zealand was sparked by the fact that he received the news his work The Sculptor's Studio had finally been accepted as an exhibit in the prestigious Royal Academy Summer Show only hours from his death.

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