Monday, May 21, 2007

Rare early color photography

These autochromes were recently re-discovered and will be on display for a limited time this October at the George Eastman House in Rochester New York. Autochrome processing was an early form of color photography that utilized color dyed potato starch that would transfer the image on to the photo-sensitive glass plate creating a positive image. This is the story of how they were re-discovered and came in to the museum's possession.

A Splash of Photo History Comes to Light: by Randy Kennedy for The New York Times

At first glance the two pictures seem to be gorgeous anachronisms, full-color blasts from the black-and-white world of 1908, the year Ford introduced the Model T and Theodore Roosevelt was nearing the end of his second term.

But they are genuine products of their time, rare ones, among the few surviving masterpieces from the earliest days of color photography, made using a process developed by the Lumière brothers in France and imported to the United States by the photographer Edward Steichen a century ago this year. They were taken by Steichen, probably in Buffalo, and are thought to be portraits of Charlotte Spaulding, a friend and student who became his luminous subject for the portraits, which resemble pointillist miniatures on glass.

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