THE GREAT WAR IMAGE ARCHIVE, FRANCE 1914-1918
The Great War from its earliest days was a struggle of competing cultural ideas and values: these provided an important impetus for combatting the enemy. In France, a long history dating back to the Revolution of illustrated books and journals that commented on public events provided an abundant and rich representation of the War. Images ran the gamut from journalistic depiction of events to highly stylized depictions that emphasized a subjective and often personal response on the part of the artist.
The purpose of this archive is to bring to the attention of students of the Great War a series of thematically organized images not easily available outside of research libraries. Each of the themes unites a series of images that can be enlarged and commented upon in threads that we hope will encourage the exchange of information and ideas.
The quantity of images produced in the war years was prodigious: in 1917, art historian Clément-Janin estimated that more than 10000 images had been published in the first two years of the war. The examples we have selected are always characteristic of what was being produced at the time (the images are by and large from 1914-1920 exclusively), and often quite striking.
The majority of the works are from my personal collection and to my knowledge are in the public domain. In some cases, I have had the pleasure of relying on the kindness of friends. Images from René Préjalen’s album of the life of an aviator in the Macedonian theater as well as works by Bernard Boutet de Monvel and Hermann-Paul have been enthusiastically provided by Stéphane Addade, whose unfailing generosity it is a pleasure to acknowledge here. I own thanks as well to good friends in France who have always welcomed my queries and suffered my theorizing with great good humor. Jean-Pierre Verney gave me access to his collection, a few images of which are on the site. He started me down this path on a memorable Sunday in 2000 when my old friend Bernard Chambon, with whom I have shared countless Great War conversations, introduced us. The circle of friends at the Librairie Chrétien in Paris has nourished this work since its inception: Claire Roucher Coelho, Hélène Drutinus, and Jean Izarn offered their friendship, constant support and encouragement, books, coffee and conversation; many clients of the shop slipped me invaluable hints and suggestions. To Alain Matthey de l’Etang my special thanks for being my “frangibus indéfectible,” and for the hundreds of conversations over the years.
Likewise, all thanks are due Luke Conley, who survived my constant reorganizing tendencies to produce a site that is simple, elegant and attractive. A better collaborator can not be imagined.
John Anzalone Designed by Luke Conley
Please be patient, as pages may take time to load.