Robert Capa's Lost Negatives

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Robert Capa (October 22, 1913 – May 25, 1954), was a Hungarian war photographer and photojournalist who was famous for his spectacular and powerful scenes from war. His action photographs, such as those taken during the 1944 Normandy invasion, portray the violence of war with unique impact. 


One of three boxes containing negatives by Robert Capa.

In1939, Robert Capa was in Paris at a time when the whole of France was under siege by the Nazi. Robert Capa decides to flee to America but in his haste leaves behind three small suitcases filled with negatives made between 1936 and 1939 during his coverage of the Spanish Civil War. This cache of historic film, known as the "Mexican Suitcase," was smuggled out of Europe early in World War II, then lay hidden and forgotten for decades. After nearly 70 years, the International Center of Photography acquired the three suitcases and with it 3,500 lost photos in about 100 rolls of films.

The new prints from the Suitcase negatives went on display for the first time in an astonishing exhibition at the International Center of Photography, New York, from September 24, 2010 and will be available for viewing through January 9, 2011.

Here are some highlights of the collection.

Exiled Republicans being marched on the beach from one internment camp, Le Barcarès, France. March 1939.

ms099, ms 99, Mexican Suitcase, Spanish Civil War, 35mm negative

Republican officer and Gerda Taro (Capa’s collaborator and lover, who died during the war) , University City, Madrid. February 1937

Mexican Suitcase, ms51, Spain, 35mm negative

Man carrying a wounded boy, Teruel, Spain. December 1937.


Ernest Hemingway (third from the left), New York Times journalist Herbert Matthews (second from the left) and two Republican soldiers, Teruel, Spain. December 1937


Mother nursing a baby while listening to political speech, near Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain. Late April–early May 1936


Outdoor mass for Republican soldiers, near Lekeitio, Basque region, Spain. January–February 1937.


Dolores Ibárruri (La Pasionaria), Madrid. Late April–early July 1936

Mexican Suitcase, MS 33

Two Republican soldiers carrying a crucifix, Madrid. October– November 1936

Mexican Suitcase, MS 39

Training of the New People’s Army, Valencia. March 1937

ms069, Mexican Suitcase, Spain, Spanish Civil War, 35mm negatives

Crowd at the gate of the morgue after the air raid, Valencia. May 1937

Mexican Suitcase, Spanish Civil War, 35mm negative, film, Spain

Young Republican soldier, Brunete, Spain. July 1937


Republican soldier on a motorcycle, Navacerrada Pass, Segovia front, Spain. Late May–early June 1937


Gerda Taro and Robert Capa on the terrace of Café du Dôme in Montparnasse, Paris. Early 1936

Mexican Suitcase, ms092, MS 92, Spain, Spanish Civil War,

Photo Credits: International Center of Photography


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