Photographic portraits from the collection of Anne Morgan, ca. 1917–20
The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of the estate of Anne Morgan, 1952
As part of a vigorous publicity campaign, the American Committee for Devastated France, a civilian relief organization, commissioned photographs and films designed to foster a humanitarian response to the plight of French refugees during and after the First World War. Full-page images ran in American newspapers and sets of prints were sold for three dollars a dozen. Among the most affecting images were portraits featuring the craggy faces of the proud, elderly farmers of Picardy and the beautiful faces of French children—some posed in shabby clothing; others neatly dressed as they engaged in volunteer-sponsored activities. While the committee worked with a number of photographers over the years, it is likely that most of the portraits shown here were taken by Harry B. Lachman (1886–1975), an American landscape painter who also directed a feature-length motion picture depicting life in the devastated regions.