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John Monash
, 1919

by James Quinn

oil on canvas (frame: 96.2 cm x 84.2 cm, support: 76.5 cm x 64.0 cm)

General Sir John Monash gcmg kcb (1865–1931) was one of Australia’s great military leaders. Having begun his career in engineering and construction in Melbourne, he was appointed to lead the 4th Infantry Brigade of the AIF in Egypt. After heading his troops at Gallipoli, in 1916 he moved to the Western Front, where he was to earn great renown as a tactician, dedicated to minimising casualties through rigorous training, detailed planning and strong technical and mechanical support of his troops. He was promoted to command the Australian Corps in 1918; in July that year, he masterminded the Corps’s involvement in the decisive Battle of Hamel. The first Jew to head a major army in the First World War, he returned with copious honours, though he abhorred the ‘dreadful inefficiency of, and the misspent energy of, war’. For his work on engineering applied to modern warfare, Monash was awarded the first doctorate in engineering from an Australian university. On his return to civilian life, Monash became General Manager, then Chairman, of the Victorian State Electricity Commission. Involved with a number of public organisations, he remained a much-loved public figure in Victoria until his death; his State funeral was attended by some 300 000 people.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of John Colin Monash Bennett 2007
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2007.3