Will Longstaff War Artist

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Will Longstaff was born in Ballarat, Victoria in 1879. From 1900 to 1901, he served with the South African Light Horse in the Boer War. Following his return to Victoria, he taught art privately with Leslie Wilkie at Eltham. He enlisted with the Remounts in October 1915 and served in the Middle East and France before being invalided to England in October 1917. While serving in Egypt, he made pictorial records of the ANZAC Mounted Division and the Desert Column. He then served in England with the B Sub-Depot, Westham. In 1918, he was trained in camouflage work in London with Frank Crozier, J. S. MacDonald and James Scott, and he was subsequently appointed as an Official War Artist working as officer in charge of camouflage for the 2nd Division AIF in France.

    After the war Longstaff lived in London, working in the War Records Section, painting a series of war pictures now in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1919 - after leaving the Services he remained in England for the rest of his life. He settled in Sussex in the 1930’s where he continued to paint until his death in 1953.

    Longstaff's Menin Gate at midnight, painted in 1927, is one of the best-known paintings in the Australian War Memorial's art collection. In the years following the First World War, this painting's tribute to sacrifice, combined with its spiritualist overtones, struck exactly the right chord with many Australians who had lost family and friends in the war. Longstaff painted the work after he had attended the unveiling ceremony of the Menin Gate memorial at the entrance of the Belgian town of Ypres 24 July 1927. This memorial was dedicated to the 350,000 men of the British and empire forces who had died in the battles around Ypres.



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