Our web page presents stereo photographs related to World War I. A stereograph is in fact made up of two, slightly different pictures of the same scene taken from two different angles corresponding to the positions of a pair of human eyes. When viewed with a device called a stereoscope, the two photographs merge into one “solid” picture in the viewer’s mind. When viewed with a device called a stereoscope, the two photographs merge into one “solid” picture in the viewer’s mind.
Stereo photography was one of the earliest photographic techniques to emerge, and had already experienced two peaks of popularity by 1914. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries a number of firms such as the American Underwood & Underwood (1882–1923) and Keystone View (1892–1970) companies, and the German Neue Photographische Gesellschaft (1894–1922) were manufacturing stereograph sets in huge quantities and distributing them worldwide.
These photos, which gave the impression of solidity with the third dimension of depth appearing in addition to the two dimensions of height and width, were seen as a special yet not too expensive form of entertainment. The stereographs of international companies depicted current events that the press reported on, and excited the “visual curiosity” of people. The photos of international exhibitions, diplomatic events, wars and natural catastrophes made the public more interested in the life of the given countries and their populations. Many people purchased and collected stereographs of foreign countries, because viewing the three-dimensional photos in a stereoscope – especially if the device was built in such a way as to exclude peripheral vision, that is, the outside world – might have given the impression to the viewer that she or he was actually present at the depicted location or in the scene. The heyday of stereographs ended in the late-1910s when illustrated newspapers, motion pictures and cinemas were already offering quicker and more fascinating ways of informing people about world events.
However, three-dimensional photos depicting the battlefields and events of the Great War were still much sought-after. German, British and American companies answered this demand: they compiled sets of stereographs and offered them to a public that craved visual information.
Our web page presents WWI stereographs distributed by foreign companies, but among the pictures there are many photos of Hungarian interest, too. The stereographs are not used here as illustrations but as historical evidence, and they are the very target and subject of historical research. Our goal is to explore the birth and different uses of the photographs with the help of the accessible sources.
nezopontok3d.hu is an integral part of the exhibition NÉZŐPONTOK / VIEWPOINTS, curated by the Hungarian National Museum and private collector Sándor Felvinczi. The exhibition, presenting WWI stereographs with the help of the anaglyph technique was on display between 19 December 2014 and 15 February 2015 in the Hungarian National Museum, and then will be hosted by different town museums in Hungary in 2015-2016. Our web page reports on the vernissages and the differents events connected to the exhibition.
The leaflet of the exhibition can be read here: lepo stereo
More about the book Nézőpontok / Viewpoints can be read at our Facebook page.
Stereoscope for paper prints, 25×20.5×10.5 cm
Collection of the Hungarian National Museum
American-type hand-held stereograph from the 1910s