Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cécile Coutin on WWI French Camouflage

Today we ordered a copy (sight unseen) of a recent book (the text is completely in French) by French art historian Cécile Coutin, titled Tromper l'ennemi: L'invention du camouflage moderne en 1914-1918. Paris: Éditions Pierre de Taillac, 2012, 240 pp. Coutin, who is the chief conservator at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), has researched art and camouflage for many years. Her earlier findings were published in a three-part article titled "Les Artistes de La Guerre: Le Camouflage Pendant La Première Guerre Mondiale" in Historiens-Géographes. Nos 321 (December 1988) and 322 (March-April 1989). This new book (which again, I haven't actually seen) appears to be the grand result of her patient pursuit of this subject. It is illustrated by 300 drawings, paintings, photographs and other documents from historic archives. The cover, reproduced above, shows three French soldiers (presumably camoufleurs) testing a steel-lined artificial tree (constructed in sections, with a ladder inside), used as a battlefield observation post. Other portions of the book can be viewed online here.