My collection

My photographic collection first began in 1986, in a flea market in Paris. While wading through a bunch of old papers, my attention was drawn by a "Carte de visite" photography of a cavalry superior officier. The clear crisp of the photo, the soldiery attitude and the nice uniform outfit stroke a light. My collection had begun.

Photo Hanssens (Aire sur Lys)

Year after year, I have accumulated an important collection (around 2000 pièces ?) and I started to specialize my research to officiers and more rare uniforms (colonial troops, zouaves...). When I can identify a soldier, I often go to the military archives (SHAT and SHM) to search more detailled information on his career.

My period of search goes from 1860 to 1914, when the Carte de Visite was a craze, and I deal quite exclusively on french uniforms, on cardboard support (carte de visites and cabinet).

Yet, I have also widened my scope on all the military photographs on the period (groups, regimental photography, manoeuvers, official photographies...)

My dearst piece remains my grandfather's portrait, Gilbert Discours, fighter pilot during the First Wold War (4 victories), who retired as a Major in 1934.

Photo Lang (Orange)

Although this index is in english, the text of the folowing pages are still in french.


 The Photographic portrait

History of CDV and photographers :


Signed photographs


Color  process, and black and white / color                                                                                                                 


Other photo process : Daguerreotypes and Autochromes                                                                                           


Importants photographs


Photographer's backgrounds


Standings and attitudes



Evolution of french uniforms from 1850 to 1914, illustrated by vintage photographies :

Infantry : Uniform evolution from 1850 to 1914.
Cavalry : Dragoons, cuirassiers, chasseurs and hussards. How they evolved from napoleonic attire to modern equipment
Artillery : From 1870 disaster to the 75 gun, the most modern of it's time
Engineers : Armes savantes
Services : supply and medical corps
Staff corps : The cream of the army
Schools : Saint cyr, Polytechnique...
North african troops : Photographies of zouaves, turcos and spahis...
  Colonial troops : They travelled from Sudan to Indochina.
The Navy : officers, sailors and ships of the line.
  The Imperial Guard : Napoleonic era revival trough this elit troops of Napoléon III.
  General officiers : Marshals, generals and french admirals
Les gendarmes : peace keepers inside France
National and Mobile Guard : reserve troops



Biographical notices of french officers : a travel through the XIX century history

Military personnalies : French officers who made french army history.
Identified officers : Biographical sketches, and photos on less known officers and generals of the french army.
Some extraodinary histories : Biography of french army heroes.
Conquerors of Algeria : 1830-1850.
Old timers : They fought with Napoleon the 1st.

The Orleans family : portraits of the officer corps from this notorious family, from King Louis Philippe descent. Some of them participated in the american Civil War 


The french army (1860-1914)

History and organisation of the french army from the IInd Empire to the "Belle Epoque" era

L'année terrible : history portraits of fighters during the franco german war of 1870.


Order of battles of the french army (1854 - 1900) : Crimea, Italy campaign, Mexico expedition, Franco-german war...


Army and politics tense relationship (1870-1914).


Unit histories : histories of the franch army regiments (1850-1914).


Organisation and history of the french army from 1870 to 1914 : List, photographies, and biographical sketches of all
the generals who led the army corps, who were war ministers and chief of the Staff during
"la revanche" period.


Group photographies 




Weapons of the french army (1850-1914)


The glory moments of the french army, told by witnesses


Articles on uniformology

Military decorations : illustrated guide of military medals given to the french soldiers from 1860 to 1914.


Bibliography on french military history from 1830 to 1918



  Foreign uniforms : military photos from England, Highlanders, Belgium, Germany...
  wounded : the grim face of war...

The Civil war : portraits of Civil War federal officers

  Pontifical zouaves : This unit was raised by the Pope to defend Rome until 1870, and fought against germany in the franco-german war of 1870.


Help me to identify these uniforms...

Strange and humourous photos

Portraits from colonial Algeria (1850-1914)


Photographs to trade


 The First World War

  • Organisation of the large units (armies, army corps) who fought during the first world war, with the commanding officers, their portraits and their biographies.



  • Interesting sites about the history of photography, collections, and sites dedicated to the armies of the period (1850-1914).


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