Jean Claude Roy’s painting of Beaumont Hamel, “July 1, 1916”, forms part of the new permanent exhibition at The Rooms, St John’s, Canada, entitled “Beaumont Hamel and the Trail of the Caribou”. This exhibition recounts the many contributions of Newfoundland to the war effort between 1914 and 1918, and the devastating consequences for the people of the island.
Living in both France and Newfoundland, Jean Claude was inspired by his grandfather’s experiences at the Battle of Verdun, and what he imagined the last thoughts of the Newfoundland soldiers to have been, represented by the dozens of tiny images of settlements in Newfoundland seen in the sky. This bright sky illuminates the dull muddy foreground where only three points of colour are seen: the white of the bandages, a red poppy and the blue puttees on the fallen soldier.
The shell casings were modelled on one brought back from the battlefield by his grandfather, which he now uses to hold paintbrushes, and his brother modelled for the fallen soldier. Jean Claude donated this painting to the Health Care Foundation of St John’s, NL. It was acquired from the Health Care Foundation by Browning Harvey Inc. in return for a donation of $100,000, and on the condition that it be donated to the museum.