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A Signed Photograph of the First World War Allied Commanders, 1918
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A Signed Photograph of the First World War Allied Commanders, 1918

Measurements: Overall: 38.5cm (15.2in) x 28.5cm (11.25in)

£2200

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An original autograph signed photographic portrait of General Philippe Pétain (1856-1951), Chief of the French General Staff; General Sir Douglas Haig (1861-1928) Commander of the British Expeditionary Force; Marshal Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929) Allied Commander-in-Chief; and General John J. Pershing (1860-1948) Commander of the American Expeditionary Force. The card mount inscribed ‘Bombon / August / 1918 taken by Capt. Pupier, Sec to ML Foch - H.M from C.W. Dec 1931’. Image: 29.5cm (11.75in) x 22cm (8.75in).

Bombon, in the Seine-et-Marne department of north central France, is often referred to as the birthplace of the Victory in 1918, and it was there in the courtyard of its 18th century château that Foch was presented with the baton of a Marshal of France on 6 August 1918 in the presence of Haig, Pershing, and Pétain and France’s highest political figures. It is likely that it was on this occasion that Captain Pupier took the present image. The image later became well known when syndicated under the copyright of the American photographic news agency Underwood and Underwood.

Captain Claude Francois Pupier (b. Brullioles le Rhône,1877) entered the French Army’s long-established corps of military interpreters in 1905. He worked on the encryption and decryption of telegrams during the early stages of the Great War and served on a mission to Italy in 1917, before joining General Foch in a seemingly combined role of ‘officer-interpreter', Aide-de-Camp and secretary dealing with military and non-military matters alike. His wartime notebooks, now preserved in the archives of the northern Paris suburb of St. Denis, reveal him as a man with an eye on the future, his observations particularly noting interactions that might prove useful after the war. In 1918 it was Pupier who took the historic photographs of the French and British delegations exiting the railway carriage in the forest of Compiegne after the signing of the Armistice on 11 November. He got on well with the Americans and received the U.S. Distinguished Service Medal in 1919. After the war, he married Eulalie Charlotte Maucherat de Longpré at Lyon, and rose to become deputy director of the French bank Crédit Lyonnais.

Sources:
Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross and the ...
By United States. Adjutant-General's Office
http://archives.ville-saint-denis.fr/archive/layout/carnets_pupier/n:57
 

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