This series of 4 paintings is taken from a 3 volume French history of the Great War published in 1920 called 'La Guerre Raconté par Nos Généraux'. It is a massive and very impressive work though the text, written by famous and less famous French generals, is very dry and one suspects, very inaccurate reading. The 3 volume history is a work of patriotic justification, a glorifying of the sacrifices made by the French military.
The artwork however is impressive. The books contain more than 1000 drawings, wood-cuts, etchings and paintings, many by famous artists such as Lucien Jonas and Charles Fouquerey. The art is very somber in tone, expressionistic and grim, dark and forbidding.
In this series of 4 paintings by artist Charles Tardieu, we see a French 320 mm railway cannon being moved into position, loaded and fired. The artillery piece takes on the air of an antidiluvian monster while soldiers toil anonymously to prepare it for firing.
Compare this series to Francois Flameng's view of a similar scene (see Francois Flameng).