Pencil sketch of a field of waist-high tall grass. In the foreground, a soldier stands with his back to the viewer. In the background, the tops of soldiers' heads are visible among the grass.

Letters & Artworks From War – Renefer: 1914-18

Oct. 28, 2014 - March 8, 2015, Ellis Gallery Ellis Gallery

Writer and artist Raymond Fontanet, known as Renefer (1876-1957), was mobilized to serve in the French military in 1914 and, throughout the war, always carried pencils and a sketchbook in his hands.

Renefer’s works included illustrated correspondence with his ​daughter – a unique testimony from a father to a daughter about life in the trenches. This bilingual exhibition presents the correspondence and works of Renefer during the Great War with each panel including text depicting the life of Renefer as an artist and soldier as well as some of his illustrations. Nearly 50 impressions of war are showcased in panels, including illustrated correspondence, lithographs, etchings, woodcuts and sketches.

This exhibition is designed from an artistic and educational point of view as photos taken by soldiers are connected to reference the works of Renefer, offering an opportunity to understand how he depicts and transcends the reality of a soldier’s life.

Awarded the label "Centenaire" by the French Government, this exhibit is organized by the Association Renefer, the Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France in Chicago and the Department of French at DePaul University with the support of the Institut Français and the Mission Centennaire 14-18 in Paris.

Renefer exhibition logo
Etching done in the Somme region during combat, 1916
Etching for “Under Fire,” by Henri Barbusse, G. Boutitie edition, 1918
Etching done in the Somme Region, during combat, 1916
The Convoy: sketching from the portfolio “On the Front, Verdun 1915-16”
Sketching for “Under Fire” by Henri Barbusse, G. Boutitie edition, 1918
Andresy, the Roofs and the Plain of Achères, from the Garden of the Artist - oil on canvas