This is the second post about autochrome stereoviews from the Great War. Read the first post for an introduction to colour photography during the First World War.
This acquisition consists of 17 autochrome stereoviews in the 6x13cm format, packed in 5 cardboard boxes. The boxes are provided with titles and dates, which makes the collection extra special. The different uniforms seem to indicate that the stereoviews were made by two different photographers. They were in service of the French army, but their names remain unknown. From the uniforms it can be concluded that one photographer was probably part of an artillery unit.
The technical and artistic quality of the stereoviews varies, but is generally mediocre. The two most interesting images come from the box marked Ruisseau d’Azz and were taken on 10 June 1915. They show two staged group photos of French soldiers. The uniforms show that they are soldiers of the French artillery[1-p.112]. Staged photos were very common as the autochrome process required long exposure times. Spontaneous photography was impossible and no autochrome images of combat actions exist.
The images from the box Vallée Somme might be from a second photographer and shows a soldier wearing the distinctive early uniform with the bright red trousers. It made the French soldiers a vulnerable target and the uniform was replaced by the less conspicuous horizon blue uniform from the spring of 1915[1-p.93]. This image dates from 21 March 1916 and shows that the introduction of the new uniform took a long time and that the original uniform was still in use in 1916, probably by soldiers behind the front line.
The image from the box Beaufort is dated 16 May 1916 and shows two soldiers wearing the new horizon blue uniform. They also wear the Adrian helmet that was introduced in 1915[1-p.93].
The last image is from the box labeled Camp de Meucon / Chateau de Quesnouët and was taken in May 1915. Camp de Meucon is a military camp north of Vannes in Brittany. The camp was built in 1878 after the lost Franco-Prussian war of 1870. It accommodated the regiments of Eastern France after the evacuation of the Alsace and Lorraine regions that were annexed by the German Empire. During the First World War, the camp was extended for operational needs and the reception of nearly 8.000 American soldiers from April 1918. The camp is still in use today by the French army.