Felix Vallotton was a painter, sculptor and engraver born in Switzerland in 1865. He was one of the artists sent to depict the World War One battle front in 1916, by the French Public Instruction and Arts Ministry. Vallotton came back from Champagne and Argonne with a series of paintings, some of which depicted shellfire. This representation of the military cemetery of Châlons-en-Champagne was painted in 1917. The repetitive crosses perfectly illustrate the high death-rate during the war and the impact that had on those who survived.
This experience of life on the Western Front influenced Vallotton’s work during his later years. As a famous wood engraver, he also created a series of engravings of the war’s protagonists, from the French General, Marshal Joseph Joffre, to the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhem II. Preserved at the Bibliothèque de Documentation Internationale Contemporaine in France, these engravings have also been digitised.