Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Félix Vallotton, Le cimetière de Châlons-sur-Marne (The Cemetery of Châlons sur Marne), 1917, oil on canvas, 54 x 80 cm, Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine - BDIC, Paris.

© Musée d'histoire contemporaine - BDIC.

The death

95 - Félix Vallotton

From Vallotton's time in Champagne and Argonne, this is the most straightforward painting, the one in which style and means are not an issue. It relies on the repetition of a sign - a cross - in the depth of space. The graveyard thus appears immense, the crosses countless, and death omnipresent as is the case in the cemeteries remaining both from this war and from World War II. Here and there the wooden crosses are adorned with wreaths and decorations. Using the 'unknown soldier' symbolism that Vallotton introduced here a long time before it became the official French symbol under the Arc de Triomphe, not one name is legible.