Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Albert Kahn Photographic Archive at War

There have been available color photos from the Great War in abundance. One source is from the collection of French financier Albert Kahn, who began a "geographic, topographic, and photographic mission" before the war to, basically, document the world. When war broke out, Kahn's staff requested permission from the military authorities to enter and photograph the zone affected by the conflict. Readers have probably seen a number of the photos from the Albert-Kahn Museum in Hauts-de-Seine, here and elsewhere. However as part of France's national centennial effort, many more images have been released and presented on the 14-18 Mission Centenaire website (CONNECT).  

This is a set of ten showing that I've never seen before from the huge collection.

1.  A Street Corner in Senlis

2.  Rue de Vitry, Sermaize (Marne)

3.  Reims, Near Cathedral

4.  75mm Artillery Casement, Conchy-les-Pots

5.  Two Soldiers View the Doller Valley (Alsace)

6.  French Cemetery, Holbach (Alsace)

7.  Lafayette and Washington, Place des Etats-Unis, Paris

8.  Two Yanks and Three Local Lasses, Hupack (Alsace)

9.  Single Shell Hole, Léomont (Meurthe-et-Moselle)

10.  Gun Boat on the Yser Canal, Flanders


  1. Incredible pictures. Great glimpse of the past.

  2. Very good images.
    When were they tinted?

  3. It's so wonderfully strange to see this world in color. Thank you for bringing this collection to my attention!

  4. Are these colourised originals? (If so the quality suggests the colourising is relatively recent.) Or were they originally polychrome, taken by one of the early colour processes, like autochrome?