- Place where the work was made
- Media category
- Materials used
- charcoal, pastel, watercolour, gouache on cream card
- 48.0 x 63.0 cm sheet
- Signature & date
Signed and dated l.l., black crayon "ISO RAE / ETAPLES / January 1918"
- Gil and Shay Docking Drawing Fund 2022
- Not on display
- Accession number
- Artist information
Works in the collection
Isobel (Iso) Rae was born in Melbourne in 1860 and studied at the National Gallery School, a contemporary of Rupert Bunny, John Longstaff and Jane Sutherland. In 1887 she left Australia with her family for France, making her home at Étaples, a well-known artist colony in the north. While there she mixed with expatriate Australians, including Rupert Bunny, and continued to exhibit work in Australia as well as Paris and London.
During WWI, Étaples became a site for British hospitals, supply and training camps, including a camp for wounded German soldiers, and was also frequented by Australian troops. The town saw direct action as well as being a key logistical and training site, subject to German air raids from 1918.
During the war Rae was employed at the YMCA camp at Étaples, and made many pastel drawings of military life, including scenes of troops marching into camp and the training ground, eating in the canteen, queuing for the cinema and playing football. While she did not hold an official commission as a war artist, she made work as an observer and long term local in a world upended by war and social upheaval.
Rae often focussed on atmospheric night scenes with rhythmic forms and shafts of light piercing the darkness. This drawing with its simplified forms defined by dark outlines suggests the influence of fin de siècle French aesthetics, including contemporary poster design and the pastels of Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.