Collodion negatives of a French soldier

Home » Stereoviews » Collodion negatives of a French soldier

A collection of three 13 x 18 cm collodion negatives of a French soldier. The large size and the use of the wet plate collodion process makes it a rare acquisition. The images show an unknown French soldier, photographed in a studio. His kepi shows the number four, indicating that he was part of the 4th Infantry Regiment1. The soldier carries a Chassepot rifle which was used by the French army between 1866 and 1874, and the belt is a model 18452.

The overcoat is harder to date. It is possible that the soldier was part of the Garde Mobile, a guard of civilian soldiers. They wore combinations of different uniforms. It is very likely that the photo was made around the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

The second photo shows that the soldier’s facial expression is different in both photos. The photo was apparently not taken with a stereo camera, but with a normal camera. The two captures that made up the stereo pair were taken at short intervals during which the camera’s position was shifted or the photographer used two cameras in two positions, but both shutters were not operated simultaneously. These were common methods of taking stereo photos before stereo cameras became popular.

Glossary: collodion


  1. 4e régiment d’infanterie. Via: ↩︎
  2. Uniform analyse by Maarten Otte, author of The Franco-Prussian War 1870–1871 – Touring the Sedan campaign (2020) ↩︎

Further read