WWI in colour

Discover rare and vibrant colour autochromes, documenting the soldiers and battles during First World War.

A French section of machine gunners has taken position in the ruins during the battle of the Aisne, France, 1917 (autochrome), FernandCuville(1887-1927)
A French section of machine gunners has taken position in the ruins during the battle of the Aisne, France, 1917 (autochrome), Fernand Cuville (1887-1927)

Impressionist visions of war

Who would have thought there were original colour photos of World War One? The French army regularly used autochromes and Paget colour plates to document their experiences.Catch a rare glimpse of soldiers in the trenches, civilians, aircraft and destroyed buildings with images in the Bridgeman archive.

 French Premier Georges Benjamin Clemenceau (centre with stick) during his only visit to the Australian front at the Somme, France, July 7, 1918 (colour Paget plate), Hurley, Frank (1885-1962) / © Galerie Bilderwelt
French Premier Georges Benjamin Clemenceau (centre with stick) during his only visit to the Australian front at the Somme, France, July 7, 1918 (colour Paget plate), Hurley, Frank (1885-1962) / © Galerie Bilderwelt

Well-known WWI photographers include Frank Hurley (1885-1962) and Fernand Cuville (1887–1927).Recording life in the French army, and the destruction of town and village life caused by German shelling, Cuville’s autochromes have an artistic quality that distances it from the horrific realities of war.

 Three women wearing the Red Cross and the French ambulance staff with a vehicle, Verdun, September 1916 (autochrome), Gervais-Courtellemont, Jules (1863-1931) / © Galerie Bilderwelt
Three women wearing the Red Cross and the French ambulance staff with a vehicle, Verdun, September 1916 (autochrome), Gervais-Courtellemont, Jules (1863-1931) / © Galerie Bilderwelt
A little girl playing with her doll; two guns and a knapsack are next to her on the ground, Reims, Marne, France, 1917 (autochrome), Cuville, Fernand (1887-1927) / © Galerie Bilderwelt
A little girl playing with her doll; two guns and a knapsack are next to her on the ground, Reims, Marne, France, 1917 (autochrome), Cuville, Fernand (1887-1927) / © Galerie Bilderwelt
Canadian soldiers with a cant hook are sitting on the trunk of a tree for a sawmill, Quesmy, Oise, France, 1917 (autochrome), Cuville, Fernand (1887-1927) / © Galerie Bilderwelt
Canadian soldiers with a cant hook are sitting on the trunk of a tree for a sawmill, Quesmy, Oise, France, 1917 (autochrome), Cuville, Fernand (1887-1927) / © Galerie Bilderwelt
Group of Algerian soldiers following the retreat of the German army, Noyon, Oise, France, 1917 (autochrome), Cuville, Fernand (1887-1927) / © Galerie Bilderwelt
Group of Algerian soldiers following the retreat of the German army, Noyon, Oise, France, 1917 (autochrome), Cuville, Fernand (1887-1927) / © Galerie Bilderwelt

 

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