Léon-Eugène Méhédin (French, 1828-1905) and Colonel Jean-Charles Langlois (French 1789-1870) Battery, Malakoff, 1855 Varnished salt print from waxed paper negative Credit line 1998.175 The only known collaboration of Léon-Eugène Méhédin and Colonel Jean-Charles Langlois is their gripping documentation of the Crimean War (1853- 56). This desolate image records the aftermath of a siege on the fortifications at Malakoff, near the Russian naval base of Sebastopol. The cannons stand like sentinels, witnesses to the horrors of combat. Only vestiges of human presence remain in the scraps of debris, the sandbags, and the crumbling embankment reinforced by a woven wall of twigs. Through their careful selection of details and the stark contrast between light and dark, the photographers conveyed a bleakness that emphasizes the brutal reality of war. The Crimean conflict was the first to be covered extensively by photographers. The battles themselves could not be recorded, however, because of the technical limitations associated with early paper and glass negative processes.
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