Archibald Nicoll

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1886, d.1953

Becordel AD 1916

The French village of Becordel was an important point behind the British front lines during the Battle of the Somme between July and November 1916. Protected by its geography, Becordel served as an artillery depot, advanced dressing station and resting area for troops moving back and forth from the front lines. The Somme was one of most bitterly fought battles of World War I, with over a million casualties from both sides during almost five months of fighting. It was here that Canterbury artist Archibald Nicoll, serving with the 4th Reinforcements of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, was severely wounded in action on 24 September 1916. The bones in his right leg were so badly shattered that it had to be amputated at the thigh. Nicoll returned to New Zealand in 1918 and was appointed director of the Canterbury College School of Art in 1920. He followed his ambition to become a professional painter and painted many notable Canterbury landscapes throughout his career. Becordel AD 1916 was painted in 1930 from sketches he had made alongside the New Zealand horse lines at Becordel some fourteen years earlier.

(ANZAC Day, 2023)

Exhibition History