Guerre 1914-15-16. Journée Nationale des Orphelins
Translation: War 1914-15-16. National Orphans’ Day
Charles H. Foerster, Paris, 1916


While many posters inspired a sense of patriotism, others instilled in the viewer feelings of sympathy or guilt. Here, artist Charles H. Foerster draws upon public emotion to rally support for National Orphans’ Day, a fundraising campaign to support the many children left parentless by war.

Though French and British armies halted Germany’s initial invasion in September 1914, fighting continued on French soil. The war’s fabled western front, a four hundred mile stretch of entrenchments and barbed wire, cut directly through the country’s northeast regions of Champagne, Picardy, and Nord-Pas-de-Calais.

With the war at their doorstep, France suffered unprecedented casualties. By the 1918 armistice, the army had lost 1,400,000 soldiers averaging 893 deaths per day. Losses on the front created 700,000 widows and over 1,000,000 orphans providing context for Foerster’s affective imagery.