What is the meaning of this image?
This illustration by Hansi shows the piety of Alsace and the region’s gratitude for the sacrifice of French soldiers killed in battle. The tomb is marked by simple wooden cross topped by a cap – a French infantry soldier’s headgear before the adoption of the combat helmet. The decoration reminds us of an Alsace that welcomed France into her heart. Near the bottom of the cross is a wreath tied with a tricolour ribbon – the Tricolour (blue, white and red striped flag) is the symbol of France.
Who was the artist?
Jean-Jacques Waltz (1873-1951), known as Hansi, was an artist, polemicist, heraldic expert and Alsatian museum curator. A student of the Ecole des Beaux- Arts de Lyon, Hansi became a cartoonist influcenced by the Alsatian autonomist movement. His works criticised pan-Germanism and idealised a French Alsace, which earned him a year’s prison sentence in 1914. He managed to escape and joined the French army where he worked in the field of aerial propaganda.