This stunning oil on canvas painting by the illustrator F.R. Harper, presents a beautiful partisan French fighter looking over the ruins of a French village. Harper gained notoriety at the turn of the last century for his nostalgic and beautiful Indian Maiden images, and as World War I unfolded, he turned his attention to images like this which personified patriotic sentiment in the visage of daring young women. This painting was one of a series for the Gerlach-Barklow calendar company which explored the symbols of French nationalism. Due to the enduring popularity of these scenes, it’s hard to find an exact publication date for this, but it appears to date to the early 1920s, at the height of Franco-American friendship which followed armistice. The imagery shows the suffering and sacrifice and loss inflicted by the Central Powers, as the French countryside is in ruins and the sky is lit with a fiery glow. A bare footed French female fighter in a heroic yet stoic pose, with a French flag waving over her shoulder and a rifle with bayonet, serves to show France as bloodied yet unbowed. Images featuring this sort of “victory girl” embodiment of heroism resonated on both sides of the Atlantic as the Allied nations attempted to find a new equilibrium after the devastation of the “Great War.”
We included for reference a scan of a similar image titled “That Freedom Shall Reign” seen above that was published as a calendar print as part of this same series. We do not have a copy of the published calendar featuring this image, but we are certain it is a published calendar illustration.