Louis Octave Mattei (1877)

Verdun – On ne passe pas, circa 1917

SKU: 5865
Signed and titled, the original plaster maquette,
20 x 26.5 cm.


Height – 20cm x Width – 26.5cm


David Cohen Fine Art; Private Collection
Fought from 21 February to 18 December 1916 the battle resulted in nearly one million casualties. In April 1916, Pétain had issued an Order of the Day, “Courage! On les aura” (“Courage! We shall get them”) and on 23 June 1916, Nivelle issued: “They shall not pass”, a simplification of the actual French text: “Vous ne les laisserez pas passer, mes camarades” (“you will not let them pass, my comrades”).
A French lieutenant at Verdun who was later killed by a shell, wrote in his diary on 23 May 1916 “Humanity is mad. It must be mad to do what it is doing. What a massacre! What scenes of horror and carnage! I cannot find words to translate my impressions. Hell cannot be so terrible. Men are mad!”
This original plaster maquette would have subsequently been cast in an edition of bronze and sold as a souvenir of one of the longest and mostly costly battles in human history. 

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Louis Octave Mattei
Louis Octave

Louis Octave Joseph MattŽ i [commonly known as Louis Octave MattŽ i] was born in Vern-d’Anjou,

Maine-et-Loire, France on 20 November 1877. He moved to Paris where he was a pupil of the

Georges Tonnelier (1858-1937). 

MattŽ i subsequently worked as a sculptor and medal engraver

and exhibited at the Salon of the SociŽ tŽ des Artistes Français in Paris from 1904 to 1914.

He died in 1918.

We are grateful to Chris Mees for assistance.