A Frenchman's Colour Photographs Of The First World War by Adam Bunch

According to Wikipedia and what I can remember of film school, Auguste and Louis Lumière were two of the guys most responsible for inventing the movies. But within five years of holding their first public screening in 1895, the actually-really-named-that Lumière Brothers had declared "the cinema is an invention without any future," sold their patents, shut down their filmmaking facilities and decided to invent a new way to take colour photographs instead. Apparently that's how, ten years later, their photographer friend Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud had colour film in his camera as he traveled among French troops and towns during the First World War.

(Um, fair warning, the very last photo may be upsetting to those who prefer their horses to be alive and not inside-out.)

 The front line


 German shells that failed to explode, France, 1917

Reims Marne, France, 1917

Parade, 1915

Hôpital Saint-Paul in Soissons, France, 1917

Senegalese soldiers

North African colonial troops

Marine riflemen, Drie-Grachten, Belgium, 1917
Swiss border, Village of Pfetterhouse, Haut-Rhin, 1917

French solider peeing at a camouflaged urinal

Sandbags protecting an altar at a church in Soissons, France, 1917

Last one; inside-out horse warning...

 Soldiers burying a dead horse, 1914

Tournassoud wasn't actually the only French photographer taking colour photographs during the First World War, and the credits on a lot of these are kind of iffy, so there's a chance some of them may have been taken by someone else. You can find most of them—and lots, lots more—like I did, here.

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of The Little Red Umbrella and the creator of The Toronto Dreams Project. You can read the rest of his posts here or follow him on Twitter here.


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