Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Félix Vallotton, Le plateau de Bolante (Bolante Plateau), 1917, oil on canvas, Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine - BDIC, Paris

© Musée d'histoire contemporaine - BDIC.

The age of artillery

48 - Félix Vallotton

Although the one is describing the Artois region and the other is painting the Argonne, the words of Victor Hugo fit Vallotton's landscapes where there is no sign of the thousands of men hidden in the trenches. We may well look far into the distance, as far as the horizon, scour the slopes of mutilated trees and the plain in the distance, there is nothing living to be seen, there are only a few wisps of white smoke and the barely perceptible furrows of the communication trenches dug in the ground. The work is disappointing, being short on picturesqueness, pathos, and intensity - Vallotton was certainly aware of this and yet he refused to cheat. He wished to paint only what the soldier saw: earth, patches of grass, tree trunks and sky.