The Funeral of Ferdinand Foch

Manuel, Henri (French, 1874-1947)

The Funeral of Ferdinand Foch, 1929
Photographic postcard
3 ½ × 5 ¾ in.
Kenyon College, Blick-Harris Study Collection, 2015.307

This postcard captures the funeral of Ferdinand Foch, Supreme Allied Commander during the First World War. Text on the back notes “… the body of the Marshal exposed under the Arc de Triomphe,” which became the site of France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 1920. Similar to the Apotheosis, the public could personally mourn and memorialize Foch by collecting images of his funeral, which was an early example of one that was filmed as well. Explicit post mortem photography became a much less common tradition after WWI, disappearing almost completely as a mass cultural phenomenon. Funerals continued to be photographed, but the role of the image changed from capturing an individual to preserving a fleeting event.

What is the relationship between death and photography like in the present day?