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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud

Dates:  1866, 3 May - 1951, 5 January
Born:  France, Ain, Thoissey, Montmerle sur Sa˘ne
Active:  France
As head of photographic services for the French Army during the First World War he used the autochrome process of the Lumiere brothers to make some of the first color war photographs.

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Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud
Capitaine Tournassoud, 14e escadron du train 
Family history 
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Exhibitions on this website

Theme: War
Thumbnail1914-1919, The War, 150 Artist plates from the personal collection of Major Tournassoud 
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20th century masters
ThumbnailAutochromes: Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud 
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Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud (1866-1951)

Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud, French photographer, was born near Lyon in 1866. The son of a shoemaker, he joined the army after completion of his military service in 1887.
Tournassoud's interest in photography developed early on. In 1900, he met and became friends with the Lumiere Brothers and was, along with them, one of the very first photographers to experiment with the Lumiere color process of photography called the Autochrome.
During the pre-war and war period, Tournassoud would take several thousands of photographs -in black and white and in color- ranging from scenes of military life including the First World War, portraits, family life, landscapes and still lives. The World War gave him an opportunity to carry out many photographic missions on the front lines. In October 1918, he was named Director of the army's Photographic and Cinematographic Section in Paris.
In 1920, Tournassoud retired from the army, moved back to his native village and practiced photography until his death in 1951. He first became a photographer of animals. His "portraits" of animals gave him great notoriety in Europe, especially after the publishing his work on "the great French thorough-bred horses".
Tournassoud would also take photographs of his surroundings including landscapes, monuments and cities. With the eye of a painter and an excellent knowledge of the rules of composition, he produced spectacular still life imagery. He leaves behind an impressive collection of pictures filled with poetry, humor and sensitivity.
© January 2006, Nadia Valla
Association of the Friends of Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud (L'Association des Amis de Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud) 

Internet biographies

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Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

Internet resources

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Association of the Friends of Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud (L'Association des Amis de Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud), 156 rue de la Pompe, 75116 Paris, ... 
In the key histories of photography there are people who only get rare mentions and the work of Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud (1866-1951) is one of these. This website has over 1000 of his photographs, including his remarkable color work with autochromes during the First World War, excellent biographical and bibliographic information. [The website is in French and English] 
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