Serbian infantry uniform, 1912
Georges Bruyer was a painter, engraver and ceramicist and was one of the thousands of artist soldiers who were thrown into the Great War to fight on the front. He was wounded and evacuated, before later being commissioned by the armed forces as a war painter. Bruyer was marked by his participation in the fighting and produced an original body of graphical work in a modern, accessible style.
He was injured in 1915 and produced several monochrome etchings in plate during his convalescence. The inspiration of these pieces was more anguished and focused on the suffering of men. Wounded and dead soldiers abound, and most of the graphical work is centred on the bodies of dead, twisted, exhausted or wounded soldiers.
Here, two French soldiers carry a comrade who is in a bad way: the first is bent forward to carry him on his back, while the second holds the legs. They struggle forward in a landscape of rock and water that evokes the trenches or no man’s land. The injured man – perhaps a dead man stiffened by rigor mortis, has his eyes closed and his arms in the air. His posture, and the resigned, pained air of his comrades, make the scene highly poignant.
Georges Bruyer (1883-1962), Poids mort (Dead weight), 1915, etching on paper, H. 31.6 x W. 23 cm. Inventory no.: 2006.1.3821