The first successful photographic image ever captured was done so by a man named Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. Living on his country estate near Chalon-sur-Saône, France Joseph Nicéphore Niépce started experimenting with photography in the early 1800’s. The newly invented art of lithography, which swept over France in 1813, fascinated Niépce immensely and by 1816 he begun his initial experiments. He first began by placing engravings which he had made transparent, onto engraving stones or glass plates coated with a light sensitive varnish that he created himself. These experiments, together with his application of the then popular optical instrument, the camera obscura, would eventually lead him to the invention of the new medium.
Finally in 1826, after years of experimenting, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce took the photograph below titled ‘View from the Window at Le Gras‘ at his family’s country home. Niépce produced his photo, which is a view of a courtyard and outbuildings seen from the house’s upstairs window, by exposing a bitumen-coated plate in a camera obscura that was placed on his windowsill. It has been said the exposure took around eight hours.
The valuable and precious photo has been stored at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin since 1963.
Photograph by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce