Private Edward Leonski was an American GI in Melbourne during the Second World War who, in 1942, assaulted and murdered three women seemingly for the pleasure of murder. Before his capture, trial and subsequent hanging, Melbourne’s public lived in fear. This painting is a symbol of a society torn apart by war.

Text © National Gallery of Victoria, Australia


  • Title: Memory of Leonski
  • Creator: Albert Tucker
  • Date Created: 1943
  • Location Created: Melbourne, Australia
  • Physical Dimensions: 61.0 x 78.6 cm (Unframed)
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of The Shell Company of Australia Limited, Founder Benefactor, 1995, =A9 National Gallery of Victoria
  • External Link: National Gallery of Victoria
  • Medium: oil on composition board
  • Provenance: Purchased from the artist, 1995.
  • Place Part Of: Australia
  • Biography: Albert Tucker was born in Melbourne in 1914. From an early age he liked to draw and he left school at the age of fourteen to begin working in an advertising agency. In the early 1930s Tucker exhibited with the Victorian Artists Society and was a founding member of the Contemporary Art Society. In 1942 he was drafted into the army and later that year, at the Heidelberg Military Hospital, was forced to make drawings of wounds which required plastic surgery for medical records. The injuries were unforgettable. During this time Tucker became increasingly involved with art politics and the magazine Angry Penguins and began to paint the first of his Images of Modern Evil, reflecting his dark vision of war-torn Melbourne. His marriage to artist Joy Hester broke up in 1947. From 1947 to 1960 Tucker lived and worked in Europe and the United States. Returning to Australia, his work began to be discovered and was included in major surveys of Australian art. In 1989 the National Gallery of Australia mounted a touring exhibition of his drawings and an extensive retrospective was held at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1990. Albert Tucker died in Melbourne in 1999.
  • Additional information: Working in Melbourne in the 1940s, artists Arthur Boyd, Joy Hester, Sidney Nolan, John Perceval and Albert Tucker formed the so-called Angry Penguins group. They all produced expressive and powerful art that explored social issues and notions of identity. Tucker’s compelling Memory of Leonski 1943, refers to the social turmoil experienced in Melbourne during the Second World War.

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