AKA Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
Birthplace: Chalon-sur-Saône, France
Location of death: Chalon-sur-Saône, France
Cause of death: Stroke
Remains: Buried, St-Loup Cemetery, Chalon-sur-Saône, France
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist, Inventor
Executive summary: Inventor of photography
Military service: French National Guard (1788-92); Revolutionary Army (1792-94)
Nicéphore Niépce was the first experimenter to use the centuries-old principles of the pinhole camera (or camera obscura) to project light on copper plates coated with silver chloride. He invented photography, by noticing, exploiting, and refining chemical reactions caused by light to produce permanent images. He began his work in 1813, and made the first negative photographic image in 1816, though the image was not permanent and faded quickly. He obtained better quality and longer-lasting heliographic images through use of different oils, resins, and solvents, and in 1822 he began making recognizable, durable photographic images.
In 1827 Niépce began corresponding with Louis Daguerre, a Parisian painter who was conducting similar experiments, and in 1829 the two men signed a ten-year contract of collaboration in their work. They developed a better process called physautotype, using lavender oil as a key ingredient, but Niépce died in 1833. His contributions were largely forgotten after Daguerre perfected his daguerreotypes in 1839. The world's oldest surviving photograph is an eight-hour exposure onto a pewter plate, taken by Niépce in 1826 or 1827, and showing the view from an attic window in his home.
Father: Claude Niépce (steward of the duke of Rohan-Chabot, b. 1726, d. 1785)
Mother: Claudine Josephe Barault (m. 1761, three sons, one daughter)
Brother: Claude-Félix-Abel Niépce (author/inventor, b. 1763, d. 1828)
Wife: Agnès Romero (m. 4-Aug-1794, one son)
Son: Isidore (b. 1795)
High School: Oratorian Brothers School, Angers, France
International Photography Hall of Fame
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