The Smolensk Newspaper
Marc Chagall, French (born Russia), 1887 - 1985
Chagall reacted to the outbreak of World War I in this celebrated painting, in which a copy of the Smolensk Herald with the headline “Voina” (War) rests on a table flanked by two seated men in a sparsely furnished room. The younger man in the bowler hat reacts to the newspaper headline with a mixture of terror and disbelief. He lifts his hat as if to mop a sweaty brow, a gesture that suggests his fear of being called up for military duty, while the older man pensively strokes his beard, perhaps reflecting on the various wars he has seen during his long life.