Steinlen, who moved to Paris from Brussels in 1881, had a lifelong concern with the plight of the working class and marginalized populations. The subject of displaced people appears frequently in his wartime work. Between 1914 and 1915 nearly two hundred thousand refugees fled Belgium; this print, also called The March of the Orphans, depicts an exodus after a German attack. A stoic mother holding an infant leads a sea of children. Individualized subjects in the foreground give way to faceless figures in the background, which Steinlen suggests with quick, sweeping lines that blend into the vast horizon. The mother’s eyes fixate with strength and despondence on the distant unknown, while the children’s expressions remain ambiguous and unsure. The landscape behind them is suggestive of their displacement and migration from home.
L’exode – 1915
Inscription: Signed in graphite on sheet, right: "Steinlen"
Title and date inscribed in stone, lower center: "L’EXODE – 1915"
Imprinted in lower right corner: R. HELLEU EDIT
Donor: Mrs. Edward C. Moën
Jacques Christophe Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen L’Œuvre de Guerre (œuvre graphique de 1914 à 1920). Aléas, Lyon, 1999, cat. no. 32B, p. 69.
Artist: Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (French (born Switzerland), Lausanne 1859–1923 Paris) Date: 1898Medium: Etching printed in green ink on wove paper; one of three plates (in etching, drypoint, and aquatint) used to print the final version of this subjectAccession: 1992.1006On view in:Not on view