Soldats français en marche
French Soldiers Marching is unique in the artist’s body of work. It is different in both subject and composition from his ''corn-style'' paintings produced in his home town of Kaposvár in Hungary.
In 1914, Rippl-Rónai, who had by then been back in Hungary for several years, was visiting France. The news of the outbreak of the war reached his family when they were in Issy-L'Évêque. Rippl-Rónai then experienced the fate of most foreigners living in France during the mobilisation: suspected of being a spy for the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, he was quickly interned with his family in a camp near Mâcon. While there, he produced a series of portraits and scenes showing the belligerent unrest of the time.
French Soldiers Marching is the most accomplished painting of this small collection. Rippl-Rónai has captured the vibrant atmosphere of the restless crowd impatient to join the war.
The frieze style composition in the foreground, punctuated with the verticals of the large figures - soldiers and passers-by - enables the painter to convey the depth of the town square, while the upper band is filled with lines of smaller soldiers, almost reduced to an ornamental motif through the repetition of the motif and the contour lines.