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Private William Daniels (Army Medical Corps, August 1916 Reinforcements) brought this and another similar painting back to Australia at the end of the First World War. It was painted in France in April 1918 and is signed with a monogram (JHC) in the lower right corner.

The painting is a carefully arranged still life with two British Mark 1 Brodie pattern steel helmets and a red ribbon positioned on a chair draped with a white sheet. The helmet on the left displays evidence of shrapnel or bullet damage near the top of the crown. Variations on this style of helmet were worn by all soldiers fighting on the side of the British Empire in trenches on the Western Front. Juxtaposed with the two helmets the red ribbon seems laden with symbolism and meaning. One possible meaning might relate to the emblem of the Red Cross which would have been known to all soldiers fighting in the war and would have stood as an emblem of peaceful action amidst the chaos and destruction of war. The symbolism of the red poppy as an emblem of remembrance was not commonplace until 1921.

Details

  • Title: Still life with helmets
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date Created: 1918
  • Location Created: France
  • Physical Dimensions: 26.3 x 32.0 cm (framed)
  • Provenance: Donated 2014
  • External Link: Shrine of Remembrance
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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