Biography

Birth date: 24 September 1877
Birth place: New Zealand: South Island, Roslyn
Death date: 25 April 1932
Death place: United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Final rank: Lieutenant
Service number: 3265 - First World War, 1914-1918

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.

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.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 16 December 1916
  • Place of embarkation: Adelaide

Collection Items

Private Record

Art

Interior of Corbie Abbey, showing effect of shell-fire

Interior view of Corbie Abbey, showing the effects of shell-fire, still with window glass and furnishings in place despite heaps of rubble from damaged roof, Corbie, France.

ART03368

Corbie Abbey showing effects of shellfire

Between April and May 1918, the town of Corbie was heavily shelled by frequent intervals and the church was badly damaged by many direct hits. A Brigade Headquarters and reserve troops were billeted in the town during the defence of the Amiens sector.

ART03370

Aubigny

Near Aubigny; an improvised plank bridge over a river, with three trucks parked near the Aubigny end.

ART03371

1st Battalion Transport Cookhouse

Unidentified cooks of 1 Battalion Australian Imperial Force AIF, in cookhouse (cooks doubled as drivers for Battalion transport) messing equipment, cooking utensils, temporary shelter.

ART03372

Somme Valley taking in Corbie, Hamelet

St Vaire to outskirts of Hamel, from dugouts occupied by Australian troops prior to attack on Hamel, Somme Valley, Western Front.

ART03373

Somme bridge, Halle

Depicts the bridge near Halle, which had been hurriedly built in place of the destroyed Somme bridge before the attack on Mont St Quentin. There are two soldiers crossing the bridge and another on horseback also crossing in the distance.

ART03374

Peronne Square

Depicts Peronne Square with ruined church and buildings in the background, and a pile of war debris in the foreground. There are also several soldiers, horses and wagons and civilians in the image.

ART03375

1st Australian Division Battery Park, Aubigny, Somme

Watercolour sketch depicting limber wagons at the 1st Division AIF Battery Park near Aubigny and an Australian soldier standing to the right of the image near the wagons.

ART03376

The citadel, Peronne

Depicts the ruins of the Citadel at Peronne with debris strewn through the surrounding streets and soldiers walking around the Citadel. Peronne was the objective of an intensive series of operations mounted by the Australian Corps between 29 August and 2 September 1918. Surrounded by sturdy 17th...

ART03377

18 pounder quick firing gun

Depicts an 18 pounder quick firing gun, Mark II, with camouflage paint, with a half limber wagon for ammunition, which is also camouflaged, behind the gun. The gun was used by the 1st Australian Imperial Force, Australian Field Artillery.

ART03378

German machine-gun outpost near Proyart

Depicts a German machine gun post near Proyart, after its capture. There are camp remnants scattered around, helmets, rifles, satchels. In the distance are bombardments with smoke rising and explosions.

ART03380

Bray-sur-Somme

Showing bridge over the River Somme, Bray-sur-, Western Front.

ART03381

Peronne

A number of houses that have been damaged as the result of the bombardment of Peronne.

ART03382

A game of quoits at Tincourt

This painting depicts an encampment and five men involved in a game of quoits at Tincourt, France.

ART03387

1st Australian Army Hospital near Aubigny

Depicts the 1st Australian Army Hospital near Aubigny on the Western Front, with soldiers, huts and horses grazing in the midground.

ART03388

Engineers throwing pontoon bridge across the Somme near Corbie

Watercolour sketch depicting engineers erecting a pontoon bridge across the River Somme near the village of Corbie.

ART03389

Church, Villers-Bretonneux

Watercolour sketch depicting the ruins of the church at Villers-Bretonneux with debris strewn across the ground and small sections, such as columns and archways, of the church left standing.

ART03390

Wrecked tanks, Villers-Bretonneux

Depicts wrecked British supply tanks outside the town of Villers-Bretonneux.

ART03391

Dressing station

Depicts wounded soldiers being carried on stretchers through the dressing station at Bayonvillers. On either side of the path are tents.

ART03392

Ruins, Villers-Bretonneux

Depicts ruined buildings in the town of Villers-Bretonneux.

ART03393

101st Howitzer Battery, Aubigny, Somme

Depicts the encampment of the 101st Howitzer Battery near Aubigny, Albert Area. There are several tents and temporary shelters, soldiers and horses in the encampment.

ART03394

Red chateau, Villers-Bretonneux, 1st Australian Division Headquarters

Depicts the Red Chateau at Villers-Bretonneux, which was used as headquarters by the 1st Australian Division after the recapture of Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918.

ART03395

Tank used with 1st Division August 23, Foucaucourt

Depicts a Mark IV (male) British First World War tank, used by the 1st Division AIF, moving over obstacleson its way to the battlefield. There is also a rifle in the left foreground.

ART03398

End of day's rush, forward loading post

Depicts wounded soldiers being placed and carried on stretchers and placed in field ambulances at a casualty clearing station near a Somme battlefield.

ART03399

Machine gunner killed at his post near Foucaucourt

Depicts a dead machine gunner who had been killed at his post near Foucaucourt. Beside him is a machine gun and at his feet, his helmet.

ART03400

Office of the General Officer Commanding, Buire

Depicts the headquarters office of the General Officer Commanding of the 1st Division AIF, set in Buire Wood, part of the Hindenberg out post line. There are several huts and duckboard paths depicted as well as a soldier with a satchel.

ART03402

Ruins, Peronne

Depicts the ruins of the Church at Peronne, with some arches still standing, and metal gates intact as well as a large religious statue.

ART03404

Outpost Buire Wood

Depicts the outpost at Buire Wood situated atop a large tree with forest all around.

ART03405

4th Division Artillery and Infantry moving into battle

A column of Australian infantrymen and artillery wagons crowd a road leading into a battlefield on the Western Front. The battle is clearly already in action, with a tank moving into position as explosions and shellfire erupt in the distance, and parties of stretcher bearers return to a field...

ART03406

General view of Peronne from old German position left side

A diptych view of the trenched landscape of Peronne, France, from an old German position. Buildings are visible in the distance.

ART03409

Flowers gathered at Mont St Quentin

A painting of a vase of flowers, which were gathered at Mont St Quentin, France. James F 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...

ART03414

Porte de Bretagne, one of the gates of old Peronne

One of the gates of old Peronne, France, with the surrounding footpath and vegetation.

ART03415

Death of Major Black

This painting, executed in Scott's studio at St John's Wood, London, in 1919, refers to the death of Major Percy Black during the attack by the 16th Australian Battalion which Black led at Bullecourt on 11 April 1917.

ART03416

The runner

This large painting was completed in Scott's studio at St John's Wood, London in 1919 refers to a battle on the Somme in 1918. In the foreground a runner is depicted in muddy terain with soldiers behind him laying duckboards.

ART03417

German pillbox

Duck boards curve across the landscape from left to right of the composition which features a German pillbox near Saint John's Wood on the Western Front.

ART03418

Battle scene

This painting, executed in Scott's studio at St John's Wood, London in 1919, refers to the death of Major Percy Black during the attack by the 16th Australian Battalion which Black led at Bullecourt on 11 April 1917. A second version of this painting was de-accessioned in 1988 and presented to the...

ART03419

1st Field Artillery Brigade, Aubigny 1918

Depicts the encampment of the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, 1st Battery, at Aubigny, with horses tethered under trees, horse blankets lined with striped woollen blankets airing in sun, harnesses on rails and tents in the background.

ART16975

Self portrait

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.

ART19759

Bombed cathedral ruins

Interior of ruined church, roof missing, piles of rubble on floor, (possibly interior of Abbey).

ART19762

Advance dressing station, Australian Forces in France

Depicts the advance dressing station of the Australian Forces 2nd Field Ambulance, with a motor ambulance in the background. In the foreground there is a table with medical supplies arranged on it, a corpse on a stretcher on the floor, orderlies sitting on benches and chairs, all in a brick...

ART19763

Some of the birds of the AIF rank and file and others 1914-1918

The work is a satiric, anthropomorphised view of army hierarchy with Australian birds representing titled officers such as Lieutenant, Colonel, Major, Captain, Padre, Corporal etc.

ARTC00062

Captured German casualty clearing station, 1918

Depicts a captured German Casualty Clearing Station with several tents and soldiers being carried on stretchers into the larger tent in the background. There are two soldiers in the right foreground, one sitting on a can with a German? helmut at his feet and the other standing with a rifle. There...

ART03397

Enemy machine-gun position

Depicts the German machine gun position after its capture by the 1st Brigade AIF near Templeux-le-Guerard. Two German machine gunners lie dead near a damaged and dismantled Maxim machine gun with sled mount.

ART03379

Loft at St Sylvestre Chapelle

Loft being used as an observation post by AIF soldiers at St Sylvestre Chapelle, near Lys Area, Western Front. This painting is mentioned in Bean's diaries: (1918) July 12th.... "I had arranged for Scott, one of our A.I.F. artists to meet me here. He had been up in the O.P. yesterday painting the...

ART03383

Daylight raid, France

Raiding party incident during occupation of Strazeele Front by Australian 1st Division Strazeele, Lys Area, Western Front. The painting refers to the German offensive on Strazeele April-May 1918 in which the British-Australian front line vigorously and successfully resisted the attack.

ART03384

Observation Post, Strazeele

An observation post in the attic of a house at Strazeele, occupied by the 1st Australian Division. The Battle of Lys took place near the village of Strazeele.

ART03386

Market Square, Cassel, in Belgium, behind Strazeele

A view of the market square of Cassel, Belgium. The artist has given attention to the buildings surrounding the square and the horse drawn wagons, jeeps and ambulance vehicles in the square.

ART03407

Quarters occupied by 1st Australian Division: letters and rations

A view of the interior of the quarters occupied by the First Australian Division, at Strazeele, Lys area, Western Front. Four soldiers sit around a central table, two are reading letters. There is food and a candlestick on the table. Three soldiers relax in a corner of the room or near a kettle....

ART03408

1st Division Headquarters at St Sylvestre Chapelle, 1918

A camp of Nissen huts at the Western Front. These are the 1st Division AIF headquarters near St Sylvestre-Chapelle.

ART03411

Pradelles Church behind Strazeele

A line of men in uniform are marching beside the Pradelles church, behind Strazeele, France.

ART03412

Nissen hut, Mont St Quentin

Depicts the interior of a Nissen hut used as officers' quarters by the 1st Division AIF. Beds and personal effects are evident in the background, and improvised heater and flowers in the foreground. James F Scott's (1877-1932) official war art is particularly informative, both due to his...

ART03413

Old Redoubt in front of Polygon Wood with Passchendaele in distance

Old Redoubt, a stirring scene of overgrown trenches in front of Polygon Wood, with Passchendaele in distance.

ART19761

Nissen hut, St. Sylvestre Chapelle

Interior of Nissen hut used for administrative purposes by the 1st Division AIF at St. Sylvestre Chapelle.

ART03385

Mont St Quentin

Depicts trenches on Mont St Quentin taken by soldiers of the AIF from German troops, with the town and river in middle distance. The location is near the Hindenburg Line, Western Front. James F Scott's (1877-1932) official war art is particularly informative, both due to his experiences as a...

ART03369

Timeline

Date of birth 1877-09-24
Date of embarkation 1916-12-16
Date of death 1932-04-25