Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Umberto Boccioni, Charge of the Lancers, 1915, tempera and collage on paper, 32 x 50 cm, coll. Jucker, Milan. Reproduction not permitted on the Web.

 
The battlefield
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15 - Umberto Boccioni

There were very few charges of this kind during the Great War, with the exception of some cavalry confrontations during the first few months, mainly between Austro-Hungarian and Russian troops. Nevertheless Boccioni (1882-1916) depicts this one, which is allegorical rather than real. The allusion to St George and to Uccello's Battles melts into in a Futurist treatment which heightens the dynamism of the general movement. The oblique lines of the lances cross those of the guns as the horses rear. A collage refers to the French advance in Alsace in the summer of 1914, which was quickly halted, and offers a clue to the militant francophilia of the Futurists among whom Boccioni had been one of the leading figures since 1911 and probably the most inventive artist. He enlisted in 1915 and died the following year after a fall from his horse.
 

 

 
Coquelicot" No Man's Land swarmed with assailants, who walked towards the curtain of flames either singly or in small groups, or in compact masses. They did not run, nor did they hide when huge plumes of smoke rose up among them. Heavily but irresistibly, they walked towards the enemy line. It seemed as if they had stopped being vulnerable.
The great moment had arrived. The rolling barrage neared the first trenches. We got moving. "

Ernst Jünger, Storms of Steel.