[Headless Cavalry Soldier Charging with Sword Drawn]
Gelatin silver print with applied color
Image: 28.4 x 39.3 cm (11 3/16 x 15 1/2 in.)
Mount: 47.6 x 62.2 cm (18 3/4 x 24 1/2 in.)
Frame: 55.9 x 71.1 cm (22 x 28 in.)
Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester
Not on view
Before the age of handheld cameras and rapid exposure times, it was extremely difficult to photograph soldiers in battle. To meet the demand for heroic images, some entrepreneurs prepared readymade photographic or lithographic templates depicting generic battle scenes that could be personalized by inserting the head of an individual soldier from a photograph made on the spot. In this as-yet-unpersonalized template marketed to French troops during World War I, a headless horseman gallops through a fantasy battle scene, complete with a battery of cannons and a biplane hovering overhead.