Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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Mars 1916: Petain
  • Hermann-Paul
    born: Paris, France ; died: Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Bouches-du-Rhône, France ; active: France
  • Mars 1916: Petain, 1916
  • Calendrier de la Guerre, 2ème année
  • Where object was made: France
  • color woodcut
  • Paper Type: wove
  • Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 345 x 250 mm
    Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 13 9/16 x 9 13/16 in
    Image Dimensions Height/Width: 310 x 205 mm
    Image Dimensions Height/Width: 12 3/16 x 8 1/16 in
  • Museum purchase: Letha Churchill Walker Memorial Art Fund
  • Not on display
  • 2011.0060.08

A ruddy-faced man with a red mustache and an apprehensive expression (identified as French Marshal Henri Philippe Pétain) occupies the center foreground. His body is turned toward the viewer in ¾ view, as he walks to the left and his heavy, light blue coat blows in the wind. Behind him, a helmeted soldier stands amid a pile of rubble and three white bursts of artillery shells punctuate billowing clouds of smoke. This print builds upon the content of the preceding image within the series by commemorating the Battle of Verdun. Pétain had been given charge of French troops at Verdun at the end of February, 1916, and had instituted a system of rotation in which infantrymen only fought along the 30km front for two weeks at a time, allowing them to hold off German troops, who were kept on the front lines for months. The Battle of Verdun raged through December 1916, eventually resulting in the deaths of nearly 700,000 French and German soldiers.