Arras, 1915
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting

Leopold Halvoet

Belgian ( d.1918 )

Arras, 1915

  • Charcoal on paper
  • Signed & dated 1915 lower right

Image size 18.5 inches x 23.8 inches ( 47cm x 60.5cm )
Frame size 27.6 inches x 32.3 inches ( 70cm x 82cm )


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Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art in the English county of Dorset is this original World War 1 charcoal drawing by the Belgian soldier Leopold Halvoet dated 1915.
The drawing is presented and supplied in a contemporary and sympathetic frame (which is shown in these photographs) mounted using conservation materials and behind glass.
This antique drawing is in very good condition, commensurate with its age. It wants for nothing and is supplied ready to hang and display.

This original charcoal on paper drawing by the Belgian Leopold Halvoet is truly a piece of history, being a contemporaneous record of what the artist observed in the town of Arras in 1915. It is signed and dated in the lower right. The scene that confronted the artist, a young Belgian soldier, was one of destruction and desolation. We see the historic buildings of the town partially destroyed, and the wreckage of a horse and cart in the bleak foreground. It is a pitiful sight.

Arras is the capital town of Pas-de-Calais department, Hauts-de-France region. It lies on the Scarpe River, southwest of Lille. It has its origins in Gallo-Roman times. In the Middle Ages it was a place of great material and cultural wealth. The town had many significant and ancient buildings, most of which were destroyed during the French Revolution and both World Wars. Today the town is an administrative and commercial centre, and now a university town too.

In the Great War of 1914-18 the area in and around Arras was of strategic importance. Large-scale battles were fought in this region in each year of the First World War apart from 1916. In 1914-15 the Front-line trenches ran from the east and north of Arras, and across to the Belgian border.

The (First) Battle of Arras was fought on 9 May 1915 on the Western Front in France. The so-called Bayonne Legion clashed with troops of the Imperial German Army, defending the hill of Vimy, located 10 kilometres north of Arras, France. Although the Legion, comprising mostly Polish Volunteers, succeeded in capturing German trenches they suffered very heavy losses, namely 75% of the manpower. Only 50 soldiers survived the battle, with all the officers dying in the battle.

We wonder if the artist of this drawing was one of the survivors of this bloody battle, and if he captured this scene in its immediate aftermath, or in the weeks that followed. He was obviously moved by the pathos of the scene and compelled the capture the image.

Sadly, Leopold Halvoet did not survive the Great War. He died in battle at Adinkerke on 13th September 1918, in the final weeks of the war. The Belgian War Dead Registrar describes him as “Soldat Tweede Klasse / Soldat Deuxième Classe, service number 122/255 and served in the 22e Régiment de Ligne”. Today, he speaks to us through his art in images that still convey the horror of the sights he witnessed.

© Big Sky Fine Art

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