14th July, 1914.
Oil on canvas, 65.5 x 58.5cm
Donated by Nadia Léger and Georges Bauquier, 1969
Musée national Fernand Léger Inv. 97027
It is in a modern urban landscape that Léger finds the basis for his artistic practice. The public festivities held in France on 14th July (Bastille Day) every year are a perfect match for his Cubist research at the time. The colour applied sporadically is intensely vibrant and the repetition of the primary colours on the French flag in the foreground further accentuates the effects. The black outlines of the drawing reflect the artist’s spontaneous strokes. Stripped of any logical perspective, the space is dense. The repetition of curved lines is offset by the vertical crosses of the poles. The formal vocabulary reduced to the bare minimum and powerful contrasts bring out the full swing of the festivities. Léger kept this painting in his studio until his death, as if to remind him of his final moments of happiness before setting off for war. Léger would assert that his "contrasts of forms" before the war prefigured its violence.