The British Army in Possession of the Hindenburg Line, 1918
The British Army in Possession of the Hindenburg Line, 1918
The British Army in Possession of the Hindenburg Line, 1918
The British Army in Possession of the Hindenburg Line, 1918
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The British Army in Possession of the Hindenburg Line, 1918

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Overall: 31.5cm (12.4in) x 41cm (16.1in)

Pencil and watercolour on paper. Inscribed ‘L'Armée Britannique restait en possession de la Ligne Hindenberg’. Signed 'Jonas' (lower right) for Lucien Hector Jonas. Sheet: 11cm x 19.5cm. Framed and glazed.

The Hindenburg Line fell to British, Australian and US forces in September 1918 during the Hundred Days Offensive. It had been attacked several times in 1917 without success at St Quentin, Bullecourt, the Aisne and Cambrai. Known as the ‘Siegfried Stellung’ to its German defenders, it was considered an impregnable series of fortified redoubts, machine gun positions and fields of thick wire entanglements, ten miles deep and measuring a distance of forty miles from Cambrai to Le Fère. The St. Quentin Canal sector of the Hindenburg Line was regarded to be the most strongly defended section and the audacious operation launched by the British  137th Brigade, 46th Division to assault and capture it on 29 September 1918 was considered to be a suicide mission. The British Cabinet were reluctant to support it fearing heavy casualties. Haig felt he had no choice but to push forward. The operation’s success in breaking the Hindenburg Line resulted in German capitulation and the signing of the armistice five weeks later.

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Lucien Hector Jonas (1880-1947) was a French official war artist of the Musée de l’Armée, covering the front from Belgium to the Vosges. He produced portraits AEF commander ‘Black Jack’ Pershing (1917); and Marshal Foch on the day after his appointment as supreme allied commander. His work was regularly published French and Allied illustrated papers. In 1916, he received the government appointment of Peintre de la Marine (Painter of the Fleet). Born in Anzin, north east France, he trained under the painter Joseph Layraud in Valenciennes and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1902 he joined the studio of the history painter Albert Maignan and met Henri Harpignies, who nurtured in him an enthusiasm for nature, and for painting pleine air. At a time of division in the French art scene, Jonas’s traditional style won a silver medal at the Salon of 1905 and three other prizes. In 1907, the King of Siam acquired one of his works. In the 1920s he Jonas gained success with civic commissioned murals in the Art Deco style. In 1929 he was appointed a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur. In 1933 he designed banknotes for the Banque de France. In 1943, he exhibited seventeen major compositions on the life of the Virgin at the Spanish Church in the Rue de la Pompe in Paris. In 1945, at the Salon des Artistes Français, he was awarded the medal of honour for his fourteen metre long fresco, comprising some one hundred and twenty figures, entitled ‘Furor Teutonicus’.