30 September 2020

Prise de Courcelles 1918

Category: Stereoviews   Tags: Brentano's / WWI
Prise de Courcelles 1918 - Black & White Photography and Stereoscopy Blog

Prise de Courcelles is a triptych of 45x107mm glass stereoviews published by Brentano's from Paris. It shows the horrors of The Great War.

In a previous post I showed one stereoview from Prise de Courcelles ("The taking of Courcelles") to illustrate Brentano's role as a wholesaler. In this post I will cover the complete triptych. The three images were very popular and were common in the collections sold by retailers after the war. They appear with different tones, numbers and descriptions. I have two complete versions of the triptych in my collection.

45x107mm glass stereoview by Brentano's
45x107mm glass stereoview by Brentano's
Prise de Courcelles 1918

The three photos of Prise de Courcelles were taken on the battlefield of Courcelles in Belgium in 1918. The first image shows French soldiers taking cover. The second image shows the devastation after a bombardment and fallen soldiers. The third shows the gruesome image of a soldier with severed limbs.

45x107mm glass stereoview by Brentano's
45x107mm glass stereoview by Brentano's
Prise de Courcelles 1918

It's unlikely that the photos were taken by a photographer of the photography section of the French army. They made photographs for propaganda purposes and images of fallen French soldiers were bad for morale. The photographer was probably part of the unit and survived the attack. I assume he sold his negatives to Brentano's after the war. Stereoviews with images of the battlefields were booming after the war and distributors were looking for negatives to expand their portfolio. The photographer probably got a good price for his negatives.

45x107mm glass stereoview by Brentano's
45x107mm glass stereoview by Brentano's
Prise de Courcelles 1918

It may seem strange that the photographer took photos of what may have been his dead comrades, but we must not forget that soldiers sometimes spent a long time at the front and became dulled by the horrors they witnessed. Especially during the major offensives, this was daily life.