Daguerreian Society

On this day (September 16) in the year 1852, the following article
appeared on page 1 of the "Boston Daily Evening Transcript":
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

  COLORED DAGUERREOTYPES.  A communication in the National 
Intelligencer announces that W. Niepce St. Victor, nephew of Daguerre, 
has made the discovery of colored Daguerreotypes, and exhibited his 
pictures to the public.  Three of his pictures are now before the 
public in London, and the new art is called heliochromy, or sun-
coloring.  They are copies of colored engravings, the one a female 
dancer, the other male figures in fancy costumes; and every color of 
the original most faithfully impressed on the prepared silver plate.  
In the proceedings of the Paris Academy of Sciences, the following 
account of the discovery is given:
  The idea struck young St. Victor that there was some relation between 
the color which a body communicates to a flame and the color the light 
develops on a plate of silver which had been chlorinated, and he 
therefore commenced a series of experiments to test its correctness.  
He knew that strontium gave a purple color to alchoholic flame; he 
therefore prepared a plate of silver by passing it through water 
saturated with chlorine and the chloride of strontium. He then applied 
the back of a drawing, containing red and other colors, against the 
plate, and exposed the whole to the light of the sun fifteen minutes, 
when the colors of the picture were produced on the plate, but the red 
one far better defined than the others.  To produce the six other rays 
of the solar spectrum, the same method used to produce the red color is 
followed with other substances.  The chloride of calcium for an orange, 
the chloride of soda of potassium, or pure chlorine, for yellow; and 
beautiful yellows have been produced by a solution of hydrochloric acid 
and a salt of copper.  The green ray was produced by boric acid and the 
chloride of nickel; the blue ray was obtained by a double chloride of 
ammonia and copper, and a white ray with the chloride of strontium and 
sulphate of copper.
  A silver plate, prepared with water acidulated with hydrochloric acid 
and the battery, gives all the colors by the action of light, but the 
ground of the plate is always black.  St. Victor found that all the 
substances which produced colored flames produced colored images by 
means of light.  The plate upon which to produce these effects must be 
prepared with very pure metallic silver.  The baths are made, one-
fourth, by weight, of chloride and three-fourths of water.  After the 
plate is well polished by tripoli and ammonia, it is immersed in a bath 
at one stroke, and allowed to remain a few minutes.  It is then removed 
from the bath, rinsed in clear water, and held over a spirit-lamp till 
the plate becomes a cherry color, at which point it is exposed to the 
light in the camera.  It takes two hours of exposure, but the process 
will yet be shortened.  The whole process, to be successful, must be 
nicely managed.

Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

Return to: DagNews 1997

galleries society info what's new feedback
resources homepage search

Copyright 1996, The Daguerreian Society -