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HomeContentsThemes > Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)


236.01   Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871): Introduction
236.02   Soldiers during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)
236.03   Adolphe Braun: Théâtre de la Guerre, 1870-1871
236.04   Baudelaire, Saglio & Peter: Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)
236.05   Charles-David Winter: Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)
236.06   René Patrice Proudhon Dagron: Photomicrographs, carrier-pigeons and the beseiged city of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
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236.01   War >  Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871): Introduction 
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The name Franco-Prussian War commonly used in English is inaccurate as it implies that only France and Prussia was involved and this was not the case as an alliance of German states including Prussia, Baden, Bavaria and Württemberg fought together. In French the war is called the La guerre franco-allemande de 1870 (French-German War of 1870) and in German Deutsch-Französischer Krieg (German-French War), both of these names are more appropriate.
The war was the result of growing international tensions between France and a confederation of German states led by Prussia with the catalyst being the possibility of a member of Prussia's Hohenzollern royal family being in line for the Spanish throne. Although after an ultimatum from France Prussia withdrew the candidacy it was forced into a humiliating series of demands that King Wilhelm could not agree to and this led to military conflict.
The French forces did not mobilize quickly enough and the German armies surrounded Strasbourg and on 15 August 1870 started a siege that lasted fifty days. The city was devastated by the bombardment and albumen prints of the ruins were made by:
  • Charles Winter  
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  • Firms: Baudelaire, Saglio & Peter  
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  • Firms: Saglio & Peter
  • Unidentified photographers  
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By the 17 December 1870 the German forces had surrounded Paris and a siege continued through the winter until the armistice of 28 January 1871 and Paris capitulated the following day. The siege of Paris is notable for the use of the pigeon post and delivery of mail by balloons in which photographed documents were regularly sent.
In the treaty that ended the war France ceded the lands of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany and this became one of the issues that provoked the First World War (1914-1918). The Franco-Prussian War also led to the unification of the German Empire on 18 January 1871 at the Palace of Versailles and that was to have significant impact upon subsequent European history. Within Paris the church of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre[1] was built originally by subscription and later with government funding to commemorate the Franco-Prussian War.
Very few photographs survive of the battlefields - most are albums of carte de visite of the officers involved. The British Library has a series of albumen prints by an unknown German photographer that document the war from the battlefields of Alsace through to the German occupation of Versailles. 
236.02   War >  Soldiers during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) 
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236.03   War >  Adolphe Braun: Théâtre de la Guerre, 1870-1871 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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236.04   War >  Baudelaire, Saglio & Peter: Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) 
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Wapping in East London was one of the great docks of the city - an area of roads and alleys lined by the towering brick walls of the docks and warehouses. During theSecond World War it was heavily bombed as a key strategic target and following the war alterations to maritime trade reduced the significance of the area. Over the years as container ports developed so Wapping declined and when Roger Mayne[2] photographed it in 1959 it was increasingly derelict.[3] 
236.05   War >  Charles-David Winter: Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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Charles-David Winter documented the destruction of Strasbourg during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)
236.06   War >  René Patrice Proudhon Dagron: Photomicrographs, carrier-pigeons and the beseiged city of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
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René Patrice Proudhon Dagron[4] was a French chemist and photomicroscopist whose innovations in microscopy, lens design, and marketing created a popular craze in optical novelities - his Bijoux Photomicroscopiques[5] (better known as Stanhopes[6] or Peeps) from the late 1850s. Dagron had his own factory for photomicroscopy and during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) he was ideally placed to create photo-messages that could be transported by carrier-pigeons in and out of the besieged city of Paris

  1. Λ The construction of Sacre Coeur in Paris was photographed by Louis-Emile Durandelle who also photographed the building of the Paris Opera House.
    C. Baillargeon, 2011, ‘Construction Photography and the Rhetoric of Fundraising: The Maison Durandelle Sacre-Coeur Commission‘, Visual resources: an international journal of documentation, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 113-128 
  2. Λ For Roger Mayne - Roger Mayne, 1996, Street Photographs of Roger Mayne, (Art Books Intl Ltd); Roger Mayne, 2001, Roger Mayne Photographs, (Random Hose) 
  3. Λ Martha Leigh, 2008, Memories of Wapping 1900-1960: Couldn't Afford the Eels, (The History Press Ltd) 
  4. Λ R.P.P. Dagron, 1864, ‘Microscopic photography‘, British Journal of Photography, pp. 402; R.P.P. Dagron, 1864, Traité de Photographie Microscopique, (Paris) 
  5. Λ René Dragon,1862, Cylindres photo-microscopiques, montés et non montés sur bijoux brevetés en France et l'étranger [36 pages] 
  6. Λ Douglas Jull, 1997, Collecting Stanhopes, (D.S. Publications); Jean Scott, 2002, Stanhopes: A Closer View - A History and Handbook for Collectors of Microphotographic Novelties, (Greenlight Publishing); Bobbi London, 2013, ‘Stanhopes: A Package Deal‘, in Bryan & Page Ginns, 2013, Antique Photographica: The Collector's Vision (Schiffer), pp. 164-182;


HomeContents > Further research

General reading 
Lewinski, Jorge, 1978, The Camera at War, A History of War Photography, (New York: Simon & Schuster) [Δ
Livingston, Jane, 1985, The Indelible Image, Photographs of War, (New York: Harry Abrams) [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - 
Pigeon post during the seige of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) ... 
Seige of Strasbourg during the Franco-Prussian War (1870) ... 
The Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University has digitized photographic materials on the siege of 1870 (Location: pf, Call No.: MS Fr 416) 

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

René Patrice Proudhon Dagron  (1818-1900) • Charles-David Winter  (1821-1904)
HomeThemesWar > Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) 
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HomeVisual indexes > Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)

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Alan -

ThumbnailLouis Adolphe Thiers 
ThumbnailAchille Quinet: Grand Hotel, Boulevard des Capucines, Paris (1870) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailAdolphe Braun: Théâtre de la Guerre, 1870-1871 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailBaudelaire, Saglio & Peter: Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) 
ThumbnailRené Patrice Proudhon Dagron: Photomicrographs and pigeon post (1870-1871) 
ThumbnailWar: Franco-Prussian War (1871) 
ThumbnailFrance: Strasbourg 
Refreshed: 18 August 2014, 10:24
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