This original war poster urges Frenchmen and women to make a loan to their beleaguered Government, to subscribe, in other words, their version of our War Bonds. A shadowy image of the Statue of Liberty, France’s great gift to the United States, appears over the ocean horizon, giving a sense of hope by reminding the battered French that they have a strong ally coming to their defense. The slogan in fact proclaims, “For the Liberty of the World.” This message is conveyed with a subtlety and artistic delicacy very rare in wartime propaganda. It’s extremely beautiful, in fact. No surprise, since it was designed by the celebrated caricaturist and artist Sem.
30″ x 46 1/4″. Mounted on canvas a while ago, has incurred some damage to its edges since (see photos). Rare.
Georges Goursat (1863–1934), known as Sem, was a French caricaturist famous during the Belle Époque.
Aged over 50 at the start of World War I, Goursat was not drafted. He nevertheless involved himself as a war correspondent for Le Journal. Some of his rather “chauvinistic” articles had an “enormous impact”. Ten were published in 1917 in Un pékin sur le front. Two others were incorporated in 1923 in another book, La Ronde de Nuit. In 1916 and 1918 Goursat published two albums of Croquis de Guerre (War sketches). Their style is completely different from his previous work. He also designed posters for war bonds.
Citizen Loans during WW1 in France
Though it entered war with an already important public debt, France managed its growth in ways comparable to that of other main warring powers, mixing monetary financing, internal and external debt. Monetary financing was made possible by the 5 August 1914 convertibility suspension, while strong British and, later on, American support avoided a decline of the exchange rate before the end of the war. State debt purchases were transformed into a patriotic act through intense marketing, but it did not prevent a slow increase in interest rates, albeit a rudimentary circuit policy, leading to a growing share of short-term debt.