Simon Mondzain (Szamaj Mondszajn, known as ; Chelm, Poland, 1887 or 1888 – Paris, 1979)
Pastel on canvas, 112.5 x 88.5 cm
Gift of Marie-José Mondzain
Simon Mondzain (Szamaj Mondszajn, known as ; Chelm, Poland, 1887 or 1888 – Paris, 1979), Pro Patria, Paris, 1920
This striking image, painted shortly after the 1914-1918 war, shows a naked Marianne laying flowers on the open coffin of a soldier wearing the uniform of the French Foreign Legion. On his collar there is the number of the battalion the artist joined in 1914. Simon Mondzain had been living in Paris since 1912 and like many Jewish artists of the School of Paris, remained attached to figurative subjects and especially the human figure, whose integrity he sought to preserve while stylising and dramatizing it. Pro Patria can be regarded as an expression of the bereavement, impossible because hidden and even forbidden, that struck the families of war victims and also those who survived, who were expected to regard it as a victory and a heroic and patriotic sacrifice..