The village of Thiepval was completely destroyed during the Somme
Offensive of 1916 and a short distance from there today stands the
Thiepval Memorial which remembers the 72,246 missing British
Empire servicemen with no known grave from the battles.
During the First Wold War Maze worked with the British Army as
an interpreter and military draughtsman. Among his responsibilities
was high risk reconnaissance work, often recording enemy lines from
positions forward of the British trenches. At the time of the Somme
Offensive Maze was assigned to General Hubert Gough who was
commanding the capture of Thiepval, where fighting continued into
This rather sobering en plein air sketch by Maze, presumably made
in the winter of early 1917, depicts a lone soldier positioned amongst
the ruins and barbed wire, surveying the desolate frozen landscape
Maze's experiences during the War are documented in his book 'A
Frenchman in Khaki' (1934) and in one entry he describes how his
brush once froze to the paper in conditions which can't have been
dissimilar during the creation of this work. However the changing
landscape and horror of what he witnessed is fittingly recounted in
'Over the whole face of the country shells have ploughed up the
land literally as with a gigantic plough, so that there is more red and
brown earth than green.'
The artist's family.