The Niépce Heliograph

Added to the Museum of Data by Qinan Zhang on Monday, October 19, 2020. Museum of Data Collection ID: 588.

Public description: The world's first photograph—or at least world's oldest surviving photo was shot in 1827 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce outside a window of his estate at Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, France. Captured using a technique known as heliography, the shot was taken from an upstairs window at Niépce's estate in Burgundy. As heliography produces one-of-a-kind images, there are no duplicates of the piece. Photography has been a medium of limitless possibilities since it was originally invented in the early 1800s. The invention of the photography has allowed us to capture historical moments and reshape the way we see ourselves and the world around us.

Materials used: a polished pewter plate covered with a mixture that included light-sensitive bitumen and oil of lavender; a camera obscura

Credit: Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

Copyright: This photograph was purchased by the Harry Ransom Center in 1963 along with the entire Gernsheim Collection.

Size: 16.7 x 20.3 x .15 cm

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