William Frederick (Will) Longstaff 1879 – 1953 – World War I battlefield panorama depicting the – Australian Corps Front, viewed from Villers – Bretonneux August 1918 – In 3 joined sheets, each signed, “Will Longstaff,”lower right. With area names listed along the lower border
18 x 181cm
Having a Levinson silver presentation plaque on the frame, inscribed “Presented to, the Naval and Military Club of W.A. by Brig Gen A.J. Bessell Browne CB, CMG, DSO 1920”. Also inscribed with title within the border Mount.
The scene depicts the site of a major victory involving Australian troops. Lt Cliff Sadlier, a West Australian in the 51st Battalion was awarded a V.C. at this battle, in April 1918. The Villers Bretonneux Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery is now the site of Australia’s annual ANZAC day service in Europe and there will be a multi-million dollar museum constructed there soon. Brig. Gen. Bessell Brown was a famous W.A. soldier who served in the Boer War, World War I and commanded W.A.’s Volunteer Corps in the early years of WWII
Will Longstaff, the subject artist, became famous for his mystic WWI allegorical paintings. For example his picture “The Ghosts of Menin Gate,” was bought by Lord Woolavington for £2,000 in 1928 and was later presented to the Australian Government. (See lot #23 within this catalogue). Reproductions of this work were sold in large numbers and still come to market occasionally today. Crowds attended the artists exhibitions where this and other similar works were shown. After serving as a soldier during the Boer War he was appointed as an official war artist during WWI. It is likely the subject artwork was painted whilst on duty in France. His works are held by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.