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Belgian Soldiers Working on Trench - Art

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Posted 4 years ago


(160 items)

I worked very hard on the computer to bring this photo to a useable state, as it was from a very tiny image on newsprint type paper. I enlarged the image (which is taboo), added some colours with major editing to bring out the trench art in the picture.

In this remarkable photo from a museum in Brussels we see some soldiers, who had been professional metalsmiths in civilian life, such as the Belgian copper workers from Antwerp who joined the Belgian army in 1914 and were quickly moved to the comparatively quiet front along the River Yser (Ijzer) near Diksmuide. Here they are using their transferred skills to working artillery shell cases with either their own tools or those bought from local ironmongers using paper templates to create the design. We see them making trench-art shell vases.

One example of this was the trench art made by 2 brothers Jules And Camiel Versavel from the town of Passendale, Belgium. Along with the rest of the family they were evacuated and moved to the safe area outside Ypres. Here between 1916-17 they created extraordinary works of artillery-shell-case trench art. The family's private collection is a treasure trove made more valuable by the fact that 100 Yr. old Gabriel, the nephew of the two men, was still alive in 2002, and was able to recount how his uncles made the items, and as he as a 13 yr old boy had helped to collect the empty shell cases. The family now have a private collection and an important piece is a windmill whose body is a shell made in 1916, with a "circular" walkway composed of rifle bullets in sequences of 3-French, Belgian & British- and sails made from between beaten copper drive-bands. Such is the complex imagery.

I have seen several similar vases go up in private auction within the last 2 weeks.


  1. AmberRose AmberRose, 4 years ago
    After WWI relatives of soldiers who were gone would visit battlefields. They would often buy a souvenir that enterprising locals made. Lots of the WWI trench art comes from those souvenirs.

    LOVE this photo.
  2. PhilDavidAlexanderMorris PhilDavidAlexanderMorris, 4 years ago
    I just had a copy to put on the computer, the museum in Brussels owns the original image or a copy they have.
  3. officialfuel officialfuel, 4 years ago
    Nice job PhilDavidAlexanderMorris!
  4. inky inky, 2 years ago
    Great photo Phil!...:-)
  5. PhilDavidAlexanderMorris PhilDavidAlexanderMorris, 2 years ago
    Thanks inky, glad you noticed this, I love it too !~Phil
  6. PhilDavidAlexanderMorris PhilDavidAlexanderMorris, 2 years ago
    Thank you for all the loves Manikin, pops52, inky, musikchoo, Love.anything.old, SCPODan, AmberRose, fossilhunter, bkdavis, BELLIN68, Stonie, solver, vetraio50, officialfuel !~
  7. PhilDavidAlexanderMorris PhilDavidAlexanderMorris, 2 years ago
    Thank you for the loves BHock45, ho2cultcha, Moonstonelover21, SEAN68, rniederman !~
  8. PhilDavidAlexanderMorris PhilDavidAlexanderMorris, 2 years ago
    Thank you for the loves Manikin, lisa, petey !
  9. Signaholic Signaholic, 2 years ago
    Wow my grandfather could've run into these guys back in 1918.
  10. PhilDavidAlexanderMorris PhilDavidAlexanderMorris, 2 years ago
    Thank you for the love Kerry, much appreciated !~
  11. PhilDavidAlexanderMorris PhilDavidAlexanderMorris, 1 year ago
    Thanks and appreciation here for the loves Signaholic, Eye4Beauty, pw-collector !~
  12. PhilDavidAlexanderMorris PhilDavidAlexanderMorris, 11 months ago
    Thank you for the loves Manikin and tom61375 !~
  13. PhilDavidAlexanderMorris PhilDavidAlexanderMorris, 7 months ago
    Thanks for the re-love Manikin and also thanks for the loves battlegear, Bridget, Elisabethan, tom61375 !~
  14. Ginseng108 Ginseng108, 7 months ago
    Brilliant recovery of detail and contrast. The one on the left particularly resonates with me. For some reason, it feels more atmospheric.
  15. Ginseng108 Ginseng108, 7 months ago
    BTW, did you use a fractals-based program for the enlargement? Or did you go fully manual?
  16. PhilDavidAlexanderMorris PhilDavidAlexanderMorris, 7 months ago
    Hi Ginseng, I used my Epson Perfection V500 PHOTO for scanning the picture which was copied I think from an old newspaper it looked like and had a lot of lines.
    I then just used photoshop to enlarge and crop the photo.
    Thanks for the comment, very appreciated.

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