Digital image reveals 'Unknown Face' of WWI

Image will evolve as more photographs are added to the digital database, which already features tens of thousands of pictures

9 November 2018
Above, the 'Unknown Face' and, embedded in the text, three of the tens of thousands of images that were used to create it
By Connexion journalist

On November 11, 1920, the Unknown Soldier was buried in Paris, giving families of victims still lying in former battlefields a place to grieve.

This year, the Historial de la Grande Guerre de Péronne has unveiled 21st-century version of that monument. The Unknown Face is the culmination of a months-long digital project in which tens of thousands of photographs of people from the First World War were collected and superimposed to create what they are describing as The Unknown Face.

The composite portrait will be officially unveiled on Armistice Day at the Historial de la Grande Guerre in Péronne to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

As well as the composite image, visitors will be able to browse through the tens of thousands of images from the War that have been used to create it.

A website has been created at, allowing those who log on to discover some of the fates of the men and women whose images make up the composite.

Nearly 10 months of work were necessary to bring the project to life. A computer algorithm was specially developed to create a faithful synthesis so that this composite image can evolve over time as more more images are added to the database via dedicated Instagram and Facebook accounts.

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