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In 1917 Augustus John accepted an honorary commission in the Canadian Overseas Military Forces to work as a war artist for the Canadian War Memorials Fund. He worked in France until 1918 and was given free rein to paint what he liked on the Western Front.

This oil study of a Canadian soldier is one of a series of sketches that John made in preparation for a large-scale composition of the mining district of Lens, crowded with troops, stretcher-bearers and refugees. The forty-foot canvas was never finished but he completed an exact miniature cartoon for the subject in 1918.

July 2008