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Alan Moore (war artist)

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Alan Moore
War artist Alan Moore (AWM image 061535).png
Alan Moore in 1943
Born (1914-08-01)1 August 1914
Melbourne, Australia
Died 24 September 2015(2015-09-24) (aged 101)
Ballarat, Australia
Nationality Australian
Occupation War artist, artist, art teacher
Known for Drawings, photographs, paintings of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

Alan Moore (1 August 1914 – 24 September 2015) was an Australian war artist during World War II. He is best known for his images of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp,[1][2] and the Australian War Memorial holds many of his works.

Early life[edit]

Moore was born in Melbourne in 1914.[3] He began life drawing art classes at age 16, but was forbidden by his father from continuing because the subjects were nude. He took up his studies again when he turned 18, at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School, this time completing his studies to obtain a degree.[4] He also studied under J.S. Watkins in Sydney.[5][6][7]

He won several art and drawing prizes in Melbourne,[4] including the Grace Joel scholarship prize in 1942 for a nude painting.[8]

On 14 July 1939[9] Moore married this first wife, Maria.[4]


During the war[edit]

Moore's portrayal of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after it was liberated.

Moore enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1942, where he was tasked with drawing airplane diagrams.[3] A problem with one leg prevented him from being aircrew.[4] In late 1943, following recommendations from artists William Dargie and Harold Herbert, he was commissioned as an official war artist attached to the army, and given the rank of lieutenant.[3][10]

Moore's first deployment as an artist was with the RAAF in Papua New Guinea in early 1944. His earlier watercolour paintings, made in Milne Bay and Goodenough Island, were destroyed by wet weather and humidity; he subsequently changed to working with oils, which were more suitable for the tropical environment.[3][11]

During his time in Papua New Guinea he flew in several bombing raids to make sketches from the air.[12][13]

Towards the end of World War II, he recorded war scenes from Papua New Guinea, the Middle East, Italy, England and Germany.[2][14]

In 1945 Moore accompanied the British 11th Armoured Division when they liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.[4] He spent three days sketching and painting the state of the camp, its prisoners and their captors, including Fritz Klein.[1][14] It was suggested by one soldier that nobody would believe the portrayals, prompting Moore to also photograph the scenes as proof.[4][15]

After the war[edit]

After the war Moore spent some years in Europe.[6] He eventually returned to Melbourne,[4] where he taught painting at Swinburne Technical College from c. 1963.[6][7] Moore also painted images from his Belsen sketches and photographs. They were exhibited commercially, but failed to sell.[15] The Australian War Memorial initially rejected the material because it did not depict Australian soldiers; however it accepted them in 1969 when they were donated by Moore.[14][16] In 2013–14 the Belsen images formed the basis of a year-long exhibition at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, which Moore himself visited at the invitation of the Memorial.[11][15]

The War Memorial also commissioned Moore to paint several large portraits, including of Generals Douglas MacArthur and Arthur Samuel Allen.[3][17] As of 2015 the War Memorial holds more than 200 of his works.[2]

Later life[edit]

Moore continued to paint at his studio in Avoca until he was 95, stopped by arthritis and failing vision. At about the same time he moved into a nursing home in Avoca.[4]

He died on 24 September 2015, survived by his third wife, Alison.[18][4]


  1. ^ a b "Alan Moore: Australian war artist who drew horrors of Nazi concentration camp dies in Victoria". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  2. ^ a b c "Bergen-Belsen war artist Alan Moore dead at 101". The Canberra Times. 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Alan Moore". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Emily Bissland (2014-09-26). "Alan Moore: WWII artist turns 100". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  5. ^ "Moore, Alan (b. 1914)". Canadian Museum of History. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  6. ^ a b c "Alan Moore". McMurray Galleries. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  7. ^ a b "Alan Moore (1915-.) Australia". Australian Art Auction Record. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  8. ^ "Art prize won by technical college student". The Argus. Melbourne, Victoria. 1942-12-18. p. 3. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  9. ^ "I heard and saw". The Argus. Melbourne, Victoria. 1946-07-10. p. 11 S. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  10. ^ "Alan Moore: the compassionate observer". Archived from the original on 2016-04-04. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  11. ^ a b Second World War Official War Alan Moore visits the Australian War Memorial. Australian War Memorial. 2014-03-19. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  12. ^ "Putting the R.A.A.F. on canvas". Western Mail. Perth, Western Australia. 1944-05-25. p. 7. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  13. ^ "R.A.A.F Beauforts make their biggest daylight strike". Townsville Daily Bulletin. Queensland. 1944-01-28. p. 1. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  14. ^ a b c Siobhan Heanue (2014-02-26). "World War II artist Alan Moore makes pilgrimage to Australian War Memorial to view Holocaust works". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  15. ^ a b c Scott Bevan (2015-04-11). "The lifelong friendship of a WWII artist and the girl he met in Belsen". The Australian Financial Review Magazine. Fairfax Media Publications. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  16. ^ David Ellery (2013-03-16). "War artist's powerful images of Holocaust at War Memorial". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  17. ^ "Generals MacArthur and Allen at Owers' Corner". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  18. ^ "Alan MOORE". The Age. Fairfax Media. 2015-09-26. Retrieved 2015-09-27.