uch has been written about the fathers of photography. The first recognizable image formed by a camera obscura (an optical device used in drawing, described further below) was secured by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (1765-1833) in ca. 1826. This extraordinary image shows the view through a window at his country house near Chalon-sur-Saône. The exposure time was some eight to ten hours. He termed his process "héliographie" or "heliography" ("sun-writing" or "sun-drawing"). Niépce had placed within his camera obscura a polished pewter plate coated with bitumen of Judea (an asphalt derivative of petroleum), and found that the view through the window had been "drawn" on the plate by means of exposure to sunlight. Eleven years later, in 1837, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1789-1851) made his first Daguerreotype. Daguerre used a thin film of polished silver on a copper base, sensitized with vaporized iodine and developed with the fumes of mercury. In other words, in a Daguerreotype, the image formed on a sheet of copper, plated with a thin coat of silver - there was no "negative."
Meanwhile, the dream to permanently record images was also birthed in the mind of William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877). In October of 1933, Talbot visited Lake Como in Italy, making sketches of the breathtaking scenery using a camera obscura. The camera obscura (from the Latin for "dark chamber" or "dark room") used by Talbot, "resembles a modern reflex camera. A lens at one end of the box throws an image to a mirror at the other end placed at forty-five degrees. The mirror in turn reflects the image onto a ground glass screen which forms the top of the box" writes Beaumont Newhall. Talbot could then place a translucent paper over the ground glass and sketch the scenery visually by hand, using a pencil.
In a poem by William Cowper entitled "The Task" we read:
To arrest the fleeting images that fill The mirror of the mind, and hold them fast, And force them sit, till he has pencilled off A faithful likeness of the form he views.
To "arrest" the "fleeting images" ... Talbot has himself noted that ... "...the practice [is] somewhat difficult to manage, because the pressure of the hand and pencil upon the paper tends to shake and displace the instrument (insecurely fixed, in all probability, while taking a hasty sketch by a roadside, or out of an inn window) ..."
Talbot reflected: "on the immutable beauty of the pictures of nature's painting which the glass lens of the camera throws on the paper in its focus . fairy pictures, creations of a moment and destined as rapidly to fade away . It was during these thoughts that the idea occurred to me - how charming it would be if it were possible to cause these natural images to imprint themselves durably and remain fixed upon the paper." (W.H. Talbot, in The Pencil of Nature.) In 1834, Talbot experimented with his famous photogenic drawings, by placing a leaf, or fern, or a section of lace, on the surface of sensitized paper, exposing it to the Sun and then "fixing" it - a term used to prevent further action of light upon the sensitized paper. (Sir John Herschel had discovered the fixing process of using sodium thiosulfate -also called sodium hyposulfite, or more commonly, "hypo" - in 1819.) Photogenic drawings did not require a negative. A year later, in 1835, Talbot made the earliest known surviving photographic negative on paper. Talbot sensitized paper by giving it repeated and alternate washes in salt and silver solutions. Using the paper in a moist state, Talbot could secure an image with the camera obscura in exposure times of about ten minutes.
Talbot's findings were read to a meeting of the Royal Society on 31 January 1839. His paper was entitled: "An Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing or the process by which natural objects may be made to delineate themselves without the aid of the artist's pencil." In that same year, on March 14, 1839, Sir John Herschel (Figures 49 and 50) presented Shwuds ofthe Night to the Royal Society, a paper entitled "Note on the art of Photography, or The Application
98 of the Chemical Rays of Light to the Purpose of Pictorial Representation." It is to Sir John
Shrouds of the Night
100 Figure 50 
Herschel whom we owe the word photography, taken from the Greek photos (light) and graphien (to draw). Not only was Sir John Herschel an astronomer amongst astronomers, but his knowledge of chemistry leaves the reader spellbound. On February 20, 1840 he presented a paper to the Royal Society, entitled: "On the Chemical Action of the Rays of the Solar Spectrum on Preparations of Silver and other Substances, both metallic and non-metallic, and on some Photographic Processes" in which he writes:
We could hardly have predicted, a priori, for example, that, acting on one description of paper, the chemical spectrum ... should include within its limits the whole luminous spectrum, extending much beyond the extremest visible red rays on the one hand, and on the other to a surprising distance beyond the violet; while, ifanother paper is used, all action should appear definitively cut offat the orange; if another, at the commencement of the green; and if another, at that of the blue rays .
Herschel did not only restrict himself to the use of silver in the preparation of photographic papers, but he also experimented as follows:
Light has long been known to reduce the salts of gold as well as silver, and I have shown that platina in some of its combinations is also very powerfully affected by the same agent.
Platina ... platinum. The most exquisite black and white photographic printing process today is produced using the noble metals of platinum and palladium. In the case of platinum, three elements comprise the metallic salt: these are potassium, platinum and chloride (the compound is known chemically as potassium chloroplatinite). The palladium salt contains sodium in place of potassium and is known as sodium tetrachloropalladate. Also required is a sensitizer salt containing iron, known as ferric oxalate. A piece of suitably chosen paper (such as the hundred percent cotton rag paper Arches Platine) is coated with the metallic salts of platinum and palladium in conjunction with the sensitizer salts of iron and the coated paper is then dried. A negative is next placed in direct contact with the paper so prepared, and carefully put in an ultraviolet light chamber, wherein energetic ultraviolet photons begin The Dawning the process of reducing the platinum and palladium salts to their metal states. There is no 101
enlarger involved. The size of the platinum-palladium print is that of the original negative. Its tonal range is breathtaking (Figure 51).
What is so intriguing about the process is that the noble metals of platinum and palladium become embedded within the actual fibres of the matte paper - there is no coating of gelatin, as in the commonly used silver gelatin photographic process. Although the patenting of the platinum process only occurred in 1873 by William Willis (who found that platinum salts could be reduced to metallic platinum by using a developer of potassium oxalate), we should always remember those first steps by the pioneers Ferdinand Gehlen, Johann Dobereiner, Robert Hunt and ... Sir John Herschel, in his experimentation of mixing salts of platinum with hydrochloric and nitric acids and calcium hydroxide and then exposing those papers to the rays of our closest star, the Sun.
As noted earlier, it was also Sir John Herschel who had paved the way for the "fixing" of photographic prints using "liquid hyposulphites for fixing the photographic impression, in virtue of the property they possess ... of readily dissolving the chloride and other combinations of silver insoluble in the generality of menstrua."
Figure 52 is an image secured by Sir John Herschel, working with salted paper, showing the 4-foot telescope of his father, Sir William Herschel. A letter written by Sir John Herschel containing his comments on a method of treating daguerreotypes with a solution of gold to contribute to their permanence, is reproduced in Figure 53.
Many experiments with photochemistry had taken place as early as 1725, by J. Schulze. The first published experiment, by T. Wedgwood and H. Davy, was in 1802. Talbot cites these experiments in The Pencil of Nature:
... I met with an account of some researches on the action of Light, by Wedgwood and Sir H. Davy, which, until then, I had never heard of... They succeeded, Shrouds ofthe Night indeed, in obtaining impressions from solar light of flat objects laid upon a
102 sheet of prepared paper, but they say they found it impossible to fix or preserve
Shrouds of the Night
104 Figure 52 
those pictures: all their numerous attempts to do so having failed ... And with respect to the principal branch of the Art, viz. the taking of distant objects with a Camera Obscura, they attempted to do so, but obtained no result at all...
In the mind of the British botanist Francis Bauer, F.R.S., who befriended Joseph Nicephore Niepce in his visit to Britain, it was Niepce - working at his Saint-Loup-de-Varennes country house, Le Gras - who should be credited with the invention of photography.
In September 1827, Nicephore Niepce came to England to visit his brother Claude, who was seriously ill at Kew. It was in Kew that he met Francis Bauer. Nicephore Niepce prepared a memoir to the Royal Society - having being urged to do so by Bauer - but he did not reveal the secret of his process, only speaking of it in general terms. (The memoir and specimens were never formally communicated to the Royal Society.) Nicephore Niepce returned to France in January 1828; he obviously was disappointed by the lack of interest shown in Britain to his heliography.
Nicephore Niepce died of a stroke in 1833. His name: unknown to the world at large. Silence prevailed for a few years. Then came the great news from France: the invention of photography, in January of 1839. The sensation: the daguerreotype by Daguerre. Francis Bauer was greatly displeased at the injustice done to Nicephore Niepce, and contacted the Editor of the Literary Gazette of London.
Bauer's letter to the Editor, written from Eglantine Cottage, Kew Green, is dated February 27, 1839 and reads in part:
... my attention was attracted by the Literary Gazette, which reported an article from the Gazette de France, dated Paris January 6, 1839 and signed by H. Gaucherant, in which I find to my great surprise that M. Daguerre, well known for his Diorama, claims not only having been the first to discover Shrouds of the Night this interesting and important art, but wants to imprint on it also his proper
Bauer then refers to the famous verbal announcement made by the French mathematician, physicist, astronomer and politician François Jean Dominique Arago (1786-1853) to the Académie des Sciences in France, on January 7, 1839 regarding the discovery of Daguerre, and notes that:
... the name of M. Niépce was not mentioned in this report, which, I insist, is incomprehensible ... the merit of the invention belongs no less to my estimable friend Nicéphore Niépce.
Historical documents bear complete harmony to the claim by Francis Bauer F.R.S., that the First Photograph was taken by Nicéphore Niépce and that the rightful inventor was [the then deceased] Nicéphore Niépce.
Here follows the story, after Nicéphore Niépce returned to France from Britain in 1828. He did enter into a formal partnership with Daguerre on 14th December, 1829.
The commercial name of the company, as stated in the agreement, was to be Niépce-Daguerre. It is important to note the ordering of the names.
The company was to be devoted to "the purpose of cooperating in perfecting the said discovery invented by M. [Monsieur] Niépce and perfected by M. [Monsieur] Daguerre." (From Article 1 of the 1829 agreement signed by Niépce and Daguerre; italics ours. Source: "La vérité sur l'invention de la photographie" by V. Fouque, 1867; translated into English by E. Epstean in 1935.)
Article 3 of the 1829 Agreement reads: "As soon as the present agreement is signed, M. Niépce must confide to M. Daguerre ... the principle upon which his discovery rests ..." (from the book authored by V. Fouque, 1867).
In his book entitled The Origins of Photography, photo historian Helmut Gernsheim comments:
The partnership was somewhat unequal from the start. Niepce had to supply Daguerre with complete details of his process, while Daguerre's contribution consisted merely in "a new combination of camera obscura, his talents, and his industry". Evidently Daguerre had made no progress whatever with his photographic experiments so far, and he had nothing to show or to contribute.
Article 14 of the aforesaid 1829 agreement reinforces Niepce as inventor:
The profits of the partners ... will be distributed equally between M. Niepce in his capacity of inventor, and M. Daguerre for his improvements.
(Source: V. Fouque. Italics, ours)
Nicephore Niepce died on 5 th July 1833, at the age of 69 years. Now the drama unfolds: An "Additional Contract" of 9th May 1835, almost two years after the death of Nicephore Niepce, is drawn up between Daguerre and Isidore Niepce, son of the late Nicephore Niepce. The Niepce-Daguerre listing no longer appears in the original order as agreed to by the two living parties in 1829.
As elucidated by V. Fouque, Article 1 of the "Additional Contract" refers to the "firm name Daguerre et Isidore Niepce for the exploitation of the discovery invented by M. Daguerre and the late Nicephore Niepce."
Daguerre is now first in the listing; the late Nicephore Niepce is second, but he cannot defend himself. According to Article 1 of the additional (1835) contract, Daguerre is now the principal inventor of the process. What stark contrast to Article 3 of the 1829 agreement!
A "Final Contract" between Daguerre and Isidore Niepce - prepared in advance by Daguerre - insists that "the new process of which he [Daguerre] is the inventor and which he has perfected ... will carry the name only of Daguerre." The Final Contract was signed on 13 th June 1837.
One can rightly understand the sense of indignation of Francis Bauer in his letter of 27th February 1839, when the name and work of Nicéphore Niépce lay Shrouded in the Night.
Nicéphore Niépce had given his First Photograph to Francis Bauer before returning to France in 1828. When the world celebrated the public announcements of the invention of photography in 1839, Francis Bauer moved quickly to unveil the true inventor, Nicéphore Niépce.
Bauer had in his possession the First Photograph secured ca. 1826. Daguerre himself had affirmed Nicéphore Niépce as the inventor of fixing an image from nature, in the signed document of 14th December, 1829.
Francis Bauer died at Kew in 1840. The ownership of the Niépce materials moved to botanist Dr Robert Brown, F.R.S. in 1841 and were subsequently purchased by Robert Brown's assistant, John J. Bennett, in 1858. Following the death of Bennett, his estate was auctioned off in 1884. The original Niépce manuscript on heliography and his First Photograph were purchased by the Pritchard family. These items were shown in 1885, at the Photography Section of the International Inventions Exhibition in London. Thirteen years later, in 1898, the artefacts were once again borrowed from the Pritchard family and displayed at the Historical Section of the Royal Photographic Society's International Exhibition at Sydenham. It was after that Exhibition in 1898 that the whereabouts of the world's earliest photograph from nature were unknown - "lost." The priceless treasure was later "rediscovered" in England by the Gernsheim family, in 1952. It is now on display in Austin, Texas.
"What course photography would have taken had Niépce's invention been made public at this period [during his visit to England in late 1827 and early 1828] forms a fascinating speculation ... Niépce would certainly have not entered into partnership with Daguerre ..." reflects Helmut Gernsheim. "However," writes Gernsheim, "such speculations are idle ... [they] were clearly not interested in Niépce's invention."
On the paper backing of the original frame which held the photograph of the "View from the Window at Le Gras", Francis Bauer wrote by hand:
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