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Jitterbugging, American servicemen and Australian Girls

Date: 1943
Overall: 260 x 360 mm
Medium: Pencil on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased from USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Drawing
Object No: 00051750

User Terms

    A pencil sketch on paper of American servicemen and Australian girls dancing the jitterbug, by artist Oliffe Richmond. Signed in lower left corner: Oliffe Richmond / 43.

    SignificanceThe United States forces played a dominant role in the south-west Pacific, and thousands of US troops streamed into Australia, resulting in complex social, cultural and economic changes to Australian society.
    This drawing by war artist Oliffe Richmond illustrates the romantic relationships formed between American servicemen and Australian women during World War II.
    HistoryOliffe Richmond, born in Hobart, was a sculptor and artist. He studied at the Hobart Technical College before working for a local stone mason and later, being mobilized into the Australian Militia in 1940. Starting in the Intelligence Corps, Richmond served in New Guinea at the end of 1944 as part of the Royal Australian Engineers. On his return to Hobart he remained with the Intelligence Corp until his discharge in 1946.
    After leaving the army, Richmond returned to his art and enrolled in the East Sydney Technical College where he studied sculpture before winning a New South Wales government scholarship to travel overseas. He worked as Haney Moore's assistant in London until 1951 when he was given the job of teacher of sculpture at the Chelsea School of Art in 1951.
    Even throughout his six years in the army, Richmond never lost his artistic zeal. He continued to make numerous drawings of everyday scenes and life in the military, such as this drawing here. As his biographer, Lindsay Broughton notes:

    "He drew scenes of army life, but his was, fundamentally, a sculptor's perception. Even in his fully resolved chalk or pencil portrait studies of soldiers, he was concerned with the head as a solid form rather than a face as a window to a soul. The native artefacts he collected [in New Guinea] would continue to influence his work."
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