Description of the artwork «Cross of France»
The beginning of the First World War, which shocked all of humanity, certainly did not leave indifferent the artists, prompting them to immediately respond to what was happening. Romain Brooks wrote The Cross of France in 1914, an allegory. The war left no room for dreams of ephemeral worlds, and the artist depicted the nurse of the Red Cross as a symbol of France in the war. The nurse decisively examines the surroundings, the long ends of her kerchief fluttering in the wind, emphasizing the heroic and romantic features of the image, the contrasting red fabric patch on the woman's cape, contrasting with the color of the canvas, attracts attention, becoming the central zone in the composition.
Meanwhile, Ypres is blazing in the background, a Belgian city located not far from the French border, which became one of the key points of the Western Front of the First World War.
Ida Rubinstein's facial features are guessed in the appearance of the nurse, most likely she posed for this work, or, at least, served as a prototype of the image. Critics have noted the similarity of the "Cross of France" with the famous painting by Eugene Delacroix "Liberty Leading the People", which depicts a woman personifying the strength and courage of the French people against the backdrop of a city smoking in a fire. A significant difference in Brooks' work is the emphasized romantic loneliness of the heroine, which characterizes most of the characters in the artist's portraits.
In exhibitions, this painting was accompanied by a poem calling for courage and decisiveness by the artist's close friend, Gabriele d'Annunzio, a writer, poet and politician. Later, it was printed in booklets, the proceeds of which went to support the Red Cross. After the war, Brooks received the Cross of the Legion of Honor for her efforts in raising the necessary funds.
From the book The Best Contemporary Artists. Romain Brooks ".
The author of the text is O. A. Kitashova