Some of the earliest photographs of veterans on Earth are a series of 15 original sepia images of members of Napoleon's army. They were taken in their advancing years in the 1850s and keep in mind that some of these men were born in the late 1700s.

via the Brown University Library

The portraits measure 12" tall by 10" wide and are mounted on stiff card. At some point in the 20th century, the name of each veteran and his regiment was inscribed in pencil on the reverse of each photograph. The identity of the photographer is unknown, but the originals form a part of a collection held at the Brown University Library where you can see the entire collection.

Some are distorted visually, which is due to subject movement as exposure times for the era were far longer than today. However, a handful of the photographs are beautifully detailed and lend well to the art of colorization. Over 60 hours of work has gone into realizing these men in true color once again. All work undertaken by My Colorful Past.

Sergeant Taria, Grenadiere de la Garde, 1809-1815

Monsieur Moret, 2nd Regiment, 1814-15

The Mamluk de la Garde below is Monsieur Ducel, who took part in battles between 1813 and 1815. Napoleon used Mamluks in a number of his campaigns.


Monsieur Ducel Mameluke de la Garde, 1813-1815

Grenadier Burg, 24th Regiment of the Guard, 1815

Fabry, below, was photographed in 1858 while attending a veteran's reunion in Paris, on the anniversary of Napoleon's death. Fabry served in the 1st Hussars and the elite French cavalry unit.

Quartermaster Fabry, 1st Hussars

Monsieur Dreuse of 2nd Light Horse Lancers of the Guard, c. 1813-14

Monsieur Dupont, Fourier for the 1st Hussar

See more history in color, military and otherwise, by visiting My Colorful Past.