Book look: Pre-WWI colour photography

A highly unusual and truly remarkable picture book has been released.

“Welt in Farbe. Farbfotografie vor dem Krieg” features 101 colour photographs taken before World War One. The images come from the archive of European pioneers of the art. Albert Kahn, a banker, and others supported photographers to create an archive of over 70,000 images taken all around the world.
“Welt in Farbe. Farbfotografie vor dem Krieg” – which is the catalogue of a current exhibit at the LVR-Landesmuseum Bonn – includes pictures of people wearing their traditional clothes to pose for the camera – with facial expressions which signalise that they are uncertain and feel anything but relaxed in their role.

The photographers portrayed market traders, tobacco plant workers and farmers in Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and several other countries. One picture shows thousands of Muslims praying outside a mosque in Delhi, India, while other photos offer astonishing differences concerning the housing architecture in Great Britain and rural Ireland.

Black and white photographs from the era of the First World War are nothing new to us. But this collection offers a fresh perspective on a world at the dawn of a disaster which will claim the lives of millions of soldiers and civilians.

Many books are already on sale and will be released in the coming months regarding World War One which started in 1914. No matter how precise and clever these non-fiction analyses of the war are or will be – the meaningfulness of the photographs featured in “Welt in Farbe. Farbfotografie vor dem Krieg” is hard to match.

Welt in Farbe. Farbfotografie vor dem Krieg
By Christoph Antweiler, Franziska Scheuer, Rebekka Welker and others
Published by Hatje Cantz (

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