War artists and photographers from the First World War are well known. Lithographs from the siege of Strasbourg during the Fraco-Prussian war in ‘Bombardement de Strasbourg’, 1870 (1906.7.2401) provide an earlier view of the work of war artists– and of the methods of waging war. The book is composed of 21 plates of lithographs depicting war damage to the city of Strasbourg (with captions in both French and German), as well as a final series of two plates showing and naming a collection of cannons that were used and (by the looks of them) destroyed in the siege of the city.
While in the First and Second World Wars a similar picture might have been used to show the battleships, tanks or airplanes, as late as the Franco-Prussian War, these showpieces were still cannons– many from the reign of Louis XIV. Or maybe these were shown as a sign of nostalgia– Krupps and other steel companies built modern artillery pieces for the Franco-Prussian War, and these cannons may have shown simply to show how woefully inadequate France’s and Stasbourg’s defences had been.