Wartime musings (1/4)

« August 1st 1914: General mobilisation is declared »


Jacques Henri Lartigue was on holiday with close friends and family at the family estate in Rouzat in August 1914 when he heard that war had been declared. At first, he and his brother Zissou were not worried, since they were both exempt from military service.  Life in Rouzat went on as usual; the whole family had been working on Jacques’ film “Le Bandit et la fée Améliot”. The war was at most, a dark cloud hovering over the last peaceful summer days. It didn’t quite settle in Lartigue’s mind, as if he were absentmindedly following a card game being played beside him. His sensitive, gullible nature was such that he didn’t fully grasp the horrors occurring on the battlefield.

Up until June 1917, Jacques kept a diary of everything that went on, day by day, hour per hour. He stopped abruptly, but then resumed in December writing freely and with a more personal style about his love affairs and what happened between himself, Mary and Jean Dary. Thus, the period between 1914 and 1918 marks a turning point for Jacques as a young man; age counts of course, but his inner turmoil regarding the war — guilt, fear —is also important to bear in mind.

Note : When studying Lartigue’s work there are three different sources to consider: his photo albums; notes of his daily activities, made from 1911 to 1919; and the diary kept later on loose sheets of paper.

Wanda Wolozsyn