Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

In line with decisions made by the National Cabinet as communicated by the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is currently closed but will reopen to the public on 1 June. The Gallery will be observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of all visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the State. More information




Australian art

View More:


(Trench ruins with poppies)

circa 1919


Evelyn Chapman


25 Oct 1888 - 18 Jul 1961


Eveyln Chapman trained in Sydney under the Italian-born artist Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo, together with fellow students Grace Cossington Smith and Norah Simpson. She moved to Europe with her family in 1911 and attended the Académie Julian in Paris, gaining a classical training in life drawing. When war broke out in 1914, the family moved to London and Chapman spent time in St Ives, Cornwell, a thriving cosmopolitan colony for artists from around the world. She began painting vivid works in tempera and oil, which evidence her assimilation of French post-impressionist techniques.

In early 1919, Chapman accompanied her father, a member of the New Zealand War Graves Commission, to France, visiting the area near Villers-Bretonneux where many Australian and New Zealand soldiers had lost their lives. Struck by the destruction she witnessed in the villages and cities, Chapman set up her easel and began to paint the ruined buildings and landscape, annihilated by years of continued bombardment.

This small study relates to a larger work in the Gallery's collection, 'Old trench, French battlefield', in which Chapman suggests the resilience and rejuvenation of the landscape. Despite the violent past of the ruined trench, the artist imbues a sense of optimism into the work, with its sunlit vista dotted with brilliant red poppies, thereby evoking hope, regeneration and life in a post-war world.


Place where the work was made

Somme France


circa 1919

Media category


Materials used

oil?/gouache? on grey card on board


31.1 x 38.8 cm board

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Bequest of Pamela Thalben-Ball 2015


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Evelyn Chapman

Works in the collection