War Photographs From the Crimean War to the First World War

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photograph
George BarnardRebel Works in Front of Atlanta, N°4© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
"Today, the true painter of war, the most ferocious, is the Kodak" the journalist Jules Claretie wrote in Le Figaro dated April 29, 1905, fifty years after the apparition of the first photographers near battlefields.

The production of war pictures had long been the domain of painters and draughtsmen who undertook to represent its crucial moments and celebrate the men who waged them. The birth of photography was to change the deal and, progressively, history painters were to be replaced by photographers. The Musée d'Orsay collections testify to this evolution through three of the major conflicts of the later half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. During the first two, the Crimean War and the American Civil War, the complexity of photographic techniques was to limit the field to professional photographers.

However, Jules Claretie's assertion would be proved right during the First World War.

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