(Sir) HUMPHRY DAVY (1778 - 1829)
  Davy provides us with the most brilliant light yet used in projection, the electric (carbon) arc lamp. The work is recorded in Nicholson's Journal of 1800 as well as the lectures of Silvanus Thompson (Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, October 1895, On the Arc Light).  
Thomas Wedgewood


The son of the famous potter Josiah, Wedgewood‚€™s previous work in experimenting with silver salts almost comes to fruition when he is able this year to make an image. Wedgewood was unable however to keep it from darkening.


Thomas Wedgewood

  Either in 1801 0r 1802, Philipsthal gave Robertson‚€™s Fantasmagorie the English spelling Phantasmagoria and began presenting shows in London at the Lyceum Theatre. Philipsthal was a German showman and was primarily responsible for the invention of ‚€˜dissolving views‚€™, however Childe advanced it greatly. On seeing one of Philipsthal's performances at the Lyceum, Sir Humphry Davy wrote;  

“The small theatre of exhibition was lighted only by one hanging lamp, the flame of which was drawn up into an opaque chimney or shade when the performance began. In this 'darkness visible' the curtain rose and displayed a cave with skeletons and other terrific figures in relief upon its walls. The flickering light was then drawn up beneath its shroud, and the spectators in total darkness found themselves in the middle of thunder and lightning.

A thin transparent screen had, unknown to the spectators, been let down after the disappearance of the light, and upon it the flashes of lightning and all the subsequent appearances were represented. This screen being half-way between the spectators and the cave which was first shown, and being itself invisible, prevented the observers from having any idea of the real distance of the figures, and gave them the entire character of aerial pictures. The thunder and lightning were followed by the figures of ghosts, skeletons, and known individuals, whose eyes and mouth were made to move by the shifting of combined sliders. After the first figure had been exhibited for a short time, it began to grow less and less, as if removed to a great distance, and at last vanished in a small cloud of light.

Out of this same cloud the germ of another figure began to appear, and gradually larger and larger, and approached the spectators till it attained its perfect development. In this manner, the head of Dr. Franklin was transformed into a skull; figures which retired with the freshness of life came back in the form of skeletons, and the retiring skeletons returned in the drapery of flesh and blood. The exhibition of these transmutations was followed by spectres, skeletons, and terrific figures, which, instead of vanishing as before, suddenly advanced upon the spectators, becoming larger as they approached them, and finally vanished by appearing to sink into the ground. The effect of this part of the exhibition was naturally the most impressive.

The spectators were not only surprised but agitated, and many of them were of the opinion that they could have touched the figures.”

- Davy

  Harrup substantiated the previous experiments of C. W. Scheele in discovering that heat had no effect on silver compounds with respect to darkening. Harrup‚€™s own experiments on mercury salts under several environments proved again that light was the cause.  
  Wedgewood published a process he calls ‚€˜sun-printing‚€™. He had duplicated previous work by Scheele and Schulze. Wedgewood placed sensitized papers out under the sun but could not keep the sheet from going completely black.  
  19TH CENTURY    
  Throughout the whole of the 19th century, room camera obscuras became more popular and were being built across Europe and Britain. Many observatories were reconstructed which included telescopes as well. Although not as frequent across the landscape as our movie theatres of today are, they flourished as a form of entertainment to the traveler as well as the locals. Seaside resorts and hilltop locales were popular venues. For a detailed study of today's existing room camera obscuras, see John Hammond‚€™s The Camera Obscura, A Chronicle, 19th Century section, (Adam Hilger Ltd., Bristol, 1981). A fine online collection of camera obscura rooms may be seen at the Magic Mirror of Life.  
  In the early 1800‚€™s, the portable camera obscura began to look more and more as the camera of today. By the 1830‚€™s, the camera obscura was ready and waiting for a medium to capture its images and keep them. It had provided all it could in the form of a curiosity, and after the discovery of fixed-image processes, the camera obscura went on to provide a more serious, yet breathtaking form of entertainment never previously imagined. As well, the camera obscura‚€™s cousin, the magic lantern had a illustrious career of it‚€™s own. Read on and learn of the diorama, panorama, dissolving views and the infamous Phantasmagoria.  


ROBERT HARE (1781 – 1858)

Invented the oxygen-hydrogen blowlamp, paving the way for the magic lantern to become more and more used by professional showmen and the like on much larger scales.

The process consisted of the oxy-hydrogen flame being blown against the lime, thereby producing a most brilliant light, second only to the arc lamp and the sun itself.

Robert Hare
Robert Hare

Sir Humphry Davy

(Sir) HUMPHRY DAVY (1778 - 1829)

Davy reported on Wedgewoods‚€™ works to date in his paper to the Royal Society in London, ‚€˜On An Account of a Method of Copying Paintings on Glass And of Making Profiles by The Agency of Light Upon Nitrate of Silver, Invented By Thomas Wedgewood, Esquire‚€™.

We find in the report, ‚€œthe images formed by means of a camera obscura have been found too faint to produce, in any moderate time, an effect upon the nitrate of silver.‚€Ě

Sir Humphry Davy


  Philipstal provided an evening or two of enjoyment with his version of the Phantasmagoria as reported by Brewster. The apparitions were apparently produced within a small room such as an apartment and included music! At least a century before Kircher‚€™s show (which would place it at approximately 1540), the history of CELLINI provides us with a report on a Phantasmagoric-type show presented at the Coliseum, documented by Roscoe in his ‚€˜Life Of Benvenuto Cellini‚€™. Brewster also, has quoted this event. Philipstal‚€™s lantern shows were known to have resided upon tracks or rails. Phantasmagoric visions were seen upon a translucent sheet or similar material as opposed to the dissolving view were an opaque background was required. Philipsthal not only introduced the Phantasmagoria into England, he also invented the idea of the Dissolving View.  
  Dissolving Views were also known as Melting Sights, or Mist Pictures.  



The beginning of cinematic story-telling of the history of Astoria, Oregon starts in 1805.

The Lewis & Clark Expedition arrived in Astoria this year following the discovery of the Columbia river by Robert Gray in 1792. Thus begins the journey of the spiral frieze-mural on the Astor Column. It tells the story of early Oregon history from its discovery right through to the time of the early white settlers beyond 1811.

The mural spirals upwards as do all true columns with depictions. It was modeled after Trajan's Column [SEE TRAJANS COLUMN] and is 125 feet in height. The column boasts being the world’s largest memorial column made of reinforced concrete. The mural was completed in the sgraffito style. The original was painted by Atillio Pusterla. It was refurbished in 1995.

The column stands on the 600 foot high Coxcomb Hill, Oregon's highest point. The Astor Column contains over 200 figues in its cinematic story-telling and if unraveled would span more than 500 feet in length. A one-reeler of the silent era in contrast, would hold approximately 1,000 feet of film and run 10 minutes. It depicts 14 separate 'scenes' as a movie would, and commemorates Oregon history as it ascends from base to top in chronological order.

On the interior, visitors may ascend a 164-step staircase to the top. The view offers the Pacific Ocean as well as the Columbia River.

The 14 scenes of the Astor Column from base to top reads as a treatment;

14 - White settlers begin arriving and the building of the railroad
13 - Fort Astoria returned to the United States 1818
12 - Fort Astoria sold to the British and named Fort George 1815
11 - Pacific Fur Company group arrives 1812
10 - Pacific Fur Company ship the Tonquin destroyed at Vancouver Island 1811
9 - Astor arrives at Astoria in 1811 and begins building Fort Astoria
8 - John Jacob Astor of the Pacific Fur Company sails to Astoria 1810
7 - Lewis & Clark Expedition builds Fort Clatsop
6 - Lewis & Clark Expedition spends the winter of 1805-1806 near Astoria
5 - Lewis & Clark Expedition boil sea water in order to produce salt
4 - Lewis & Clark Expedition at Astoria 1805
3 - Earl village of Astoria
2 - Columbia River discovery by Robert Gray 1792
1 - Early Wilderness and Native Americans

The Astor Column was erected in 1926.

Astor Column
The Astor Column (above) is a spiral mural standing 125 feet tall
Photo Source/Credit: Jerry Matchett

Camera Lucida Rendering Of It's Inventor - William Hyde Wollaston 1806

The unskilled artist was assisted greatly with the coming of Wollaston‚€™s Camera Lucida. Lucida being the Latin for ‚€˜light‚€™, the lucida was strictly an artist's tool for use in the day for etchings, drawings and artwork in general. Perspective was ensured by this lightweight and easy to use instrument containing a prism which the user looked through to see his subject below on his paper. Nicholson‚€™s Journal wrote in 1807 on the lucida (‚€˜Description of the Camera Lucida, vol. 17, June 1807). This instrument should not be confused with nor compared to Hooke‚€™s camera obscura (SEE 1680 HOOKE) which he had called a lucida. Durer (sighting tubes, grids) and Alberti (intersector) both used devices, which allowed the ease of artistry.
W. H. Wollaston depicted in a drawing (above) made by his own invention, the camera lucida.
The Camera Lucida Of Wollaston In Use Wollaston's camera lucida (left) was an eventful invention indeed. Novice artists as well as the unskilled could produce a rendering with relative ease with its use. Consisting of an extendible telescopic tube in three pieces, with 45-degree prism and sighting lens, the Lucida caught on in popularity quickly. The user looked downward through the eyepiece at the subject, which was seen on the flat surface. The device was secured to the drawing table for stability.

The reader will recall Alberti's Intersector and the Sighting Tubes of Durer (SEE ALBERTI 1457 and DURER 1525). These instruments as well, were similar and produced desired effects in simple drawings and etchings. Nicholson's Journal in 1807 wrote an article on the camera lucida entitled ‚€˜Description of the Camera Lucida'. It was published in volume 17.

  Thayer was an American who purchased a Panorama in Paris and proceeded to build two enormous rotundas (of 17 m/56 ft diameter) on the boulevard Montmartre. Their location is remembered by the naming of a lane way as Passage des Panoramas. Two of his Panoramas were called 'A View of Paris' and 'The Evacuation of Toulon by the British in 1793'. Thayer commissioned the French artist Pierre Prevost to paint for a new location, with enormous proportions. It was located between the rue Neuve-Saint-Augustin and the boulevard des Capucines with measurements in excess of 93 feet (radius) and exhibits of 330 feet (diameter) by 48 feet (high). The structure could seat 150 per show and patrons sat no closer than 36 feet from the screen. Thayer's paintings were done by Pierre Prévost and Charles Bouton to name two.  


The Moving Panorama was extremely popular from the early 19th century to the later part of the century. Unlike the fixed Panorama, this one 'moved' before the audiece.

The Moving Panorama was as short as 100 feet and sometimes as long as 1,000 or longer. The Federal Procession of 1788 in Philadelphia was depicted at 1,300 feet in 1811.

Wound on a giant supply spool just like in a film projector, the Moving Panorama was cranked over onto the take-up spool, but not before passing behind a facade or proscenium to give the impression of being in a theatre.

The facade also hid the spools and cranking mechanism from the audience. A speaker would always provide a narration as the painted mural passed before an enthralled audience.

Image Of A Moving Panorama
The Moving Panorama (right): How Much Closer Can We Get To Cinematography in 1810? These painted giants were produced by men like John Banvard and Moses Gompertz. Moving Panoramas were popular throughout the US, Canada, Europe and the UK right up until the 1880's.

Handbill Advertising A Moving Panorama During It's Later Days Of Popularity, 1880

Early Moving Panoramas were popular for their variety of scenery; parades and other celebratory public events, common street scenes, battles both on ground and the sea, harbours from around the world, arctic voyages, the Great Lakes, local country life as well as cultural views of foreign countries, city view-scapes and many more depictions too numerous to mention. The Marshall Brothers of Edinburgh may have been the first to show their Moving Panoramas throughout the UK.

Some of the great Moving Panoramas were entitled; John Vanderlyn's Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles (1819); The Marshall Bros.'s The Coronation of George IV (1823) and their The Battle of Bannockburn (c.1824); John Martin's The Departure of the Israelites from Egypt (c.1835); John Skirving and Joseph Kyle's John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (1850-1851); Godfrey N. Frankenstein's Moving Panorama of Niagara Falls (c.1850); Arctic Explorations (1855); Thomas F. Davidson's A Whaling Voyage (1860); Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington's Whaling Voyage Round the World (1848) [Melville based parts of Moby Dick on accounts shown in this same Panorama].

Moving Panoramas were 'peristrephic'. The scrolling painting was pulled across a very slight convex (curves outward) surface or wall as opposed to a flatter surface. This added an extra sense of movement and depth to the viewer.

Rotundas were specifically built for both the stationary and Moving Panoramas. This handbill (left) from 1880 is from an exhibition by Walter Bayne for his Bayne's Original Gigantic Series of Panoramas Entitled A Voyage To Europe!

This original painting by Bayne, was based on his own sketches and although the size is not known, Bayne boasted that it "constituted by far the largest Panorama ever presented to the public". According to Bayne it took three years to construct.
  View A Large Format Image Of This 1880 Handbill Here Panorama comes from the Greek "all-embracing view" and "all sight".  


The Place Vendôme Column


Another column patterned after Trajan's Column is The Place Vendôme Column built between 1806 and 1810 by Napoleon following his victory in the battle of Austerlitz.

Meant to tell the story of this Napoleanic victory, the spiral bronze bas-relief works it's way up the column with 425 spiralling veneer plates.

The Battle of Austerliz (1805) is told in cinematic fashion from bottom to top by the sculptors Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret, Louis-Simon Boizot, Claude Ramey, Corbet, Henri-Joseph Ruxthiel, François Bosio, Lorenzo Bartolini, Jean-Joseph Foucou, Clodion and Francois Rude.

The 425 spiraling bas-relief bronze plates were made out of cannon taken from the combined armies of Europe, (hugely exaggerated) at 1250: 120-133 cannon were actually captured at Austerlitz.

The square where The Place Vendôme Column stands is surrounded by shops of some of the most famous names in fashion, as well as the Hotel Ritz.

The 144 feet column has had other names; first known as des Conquêtes (interpreted as Conquests Square), then The Colonne d'Austerlitz, then The Colonne de la Victoire (interpreted as The Victory Column) and also The Colonne de la Grande Armée (interpreted as The Column of the Great Army).

The original statue of Napoleon created in 1810 was later removed and replaced with a new statue in 1833. This in turn was replaced with another statue - the present statue.

The spiral bronze bas-relief was created by Bergeret and the column, being a stone core, is surrounded by the bronze.


The Place Vendôme Column (left) as it looks today.


The Napoleanic Wars are depicted in The Place Vendôme Column's spiralling bas-relief (right).

The obelisk-monument erected to the glory of Napoleon the Great's Grande Armée, begun on 25 August 1806 and finished 15 August 1810.

The column was to be decorated with 108 friezes climbing in a spiralling fashion, upwards and topped with a statue of Charlemagne but this was later abandoned.

Like other columns found around the world depicting events of history through story-telling, The Place Vendôme Column's friezes wind their way 'round the column depicting the major events of this Napoleanic campaign.

The Place Vendôme Column Close-Up
Close-up of the bas-relief of the The Place Vendôme Column (above).


CORNELIUS VARLEY (1781 - 1873)

This artist and scientist developed a version of a camera lucida which he called a Graphic Telescope. This device was actually a combination of telescope, and lucida. He patented it in 1811.

The Graphic Telescope had of course, a telescopic lens, which allowed the easier drawing of objects or subjects at greater distances.

The Camera Lucida In Use - From A Drawing By Varley
This illustration (right) of the camera lucida in use, is from an orignal drawing made by Cornelius Varley.
Joseph Niepce 1814

This year, Niépce begins his work in earnest, on the art form that would be known initially as Heliography. Just twelve years later he would go down into history as the one who captured the first image.

J. N. Niépce 1765-1833

DAVID BREWSTER (1781 - 1868)
  Brewster was a Scottish inventor and scientist who gave the world the Kaleidoscope, a toy that would bring millions around the world a visually pleasing spectacle of twisting and turning colours and shapes. In 1819 he wrote and published a Treatise on the Kaleidoscope.  
  Niépce documents his belief that ‚€œmaking drawings by means of light‚€Ě is a real possibility. He builds a camera obscura with a microscope lens and produced a picture that he took using muriate of silver, creating a negative image on semi-transparent paper (described and included in a letter written to his brother Claude dated 28 May 1816).  

In the letter, Niépce writes . . .

"As there is less light inside the box the image becomes clearer and its outlines as well as the dark and light patches are more sharply defined. You can see this if you look at the roof of the pigeon house, the angles of its walls, the casement window of which the lattices are visible, the glass even seeming transparent in some places. In short, the paper retains an exact imprint of the coloured image, and if everything cannot be seen distinctly is because the image represented here being very small, this object appears as it would if seen from very far away. The pigeon house being depicted in reverse, the barn, or rather its roof, is on the left instead of on the right. That white mass to the right of the pigeon house above the fence, which is not very clear but just as it appears on the reflected image, is the de Beurré-blanc pear tree, which is much further away and that spot on the upper part of the tree is a patch of light visible between the branches. The shadow on the right side indicates the roof of the bake house which appears lower than it should, because the boxes (camera obscura) are placed about 5 feet from the ground of the room. Finally, my dear friend, those little white streaks over the barn are branches of the trees in the orchard of which one catches a glimpse and which are reflected on the "retina". The effect would be more striking if, as I have told you, or as I don't need to tell you, the order of the dark and light parts could be reversed."




A Czechoslovakian physician who talked about persistence of vision and the ability of the retina to retain images after the eyes no long see the subject. He wrote on light intensity and how when light decreases, red objects fade quicker than objects that are blue when they are of the same brightness.

One of his works was 'Observations and Experiments Investigating the Physiology of Senses and New Subjective Reports about Vision'.

Purkyne is also known for coining the terms 'plasma', 'protoplasm' and recognized fingerprints as important to criminal investigations.

Jan Evangelista Purkyne
J. E. Purkyne

  In order to alleviate achromatism, Chevalier began work on replacing the lens and mirror of the camera with a prism containing lens surfaces. His work will be finished in 1823 with his ‚€˜meniscus prism‚€™. Just seven years before the first permanent photograph was taken, Niépce ordered a meniscus prism from Chevalier. Niépce was not pleased in his experiments with it and sent it back to Chevalier. Chevalier's prism was constructed for use in the camera obscura, to be used in drawings and engravings. Gernsheim has suggested that Niépce used the prism in the taking of the photograph at Le Gras. This is unlikely.  

John Herschel 1819

Herschel now discovers that hyposulphite soda would dissolve silver halides and begins working further to introduce a ‚€˜hypo‚€™ which eventually will stop the action of light on light-sensitive salts. This ‚€˜hypo‚€™ becomes the mixture photographers will need to 'keep' their photographs thus taking us closer to the permanent Photograph, and Cinematography.

John Herschel 1792-1871

A smaller version of the Diorama begins to be seen, manufactured for personal use, in the home. This miniature seems to have eluded many because little is known about it.
JEAN-BAPTISTE BIOT (1774 - 1862)
  Pictures up to twenty times life size were possible with a camera obscura Megascope according to Biot. He illustrated such with description suggesting that a meniscus lens could further advance the image.  

  Daguerre opens the first Diorama in rue Sanson, Paris. Daguerre provided scenes of The Interior of Trinity Chapel (painted by Charles Bouton), along with the Valley of Unterwalden and Canterbury Cathedral (Daguerre). The scenes consisted of elaborate landscapes and places well known to the public. The large scale paintings on canvas were huge, measuring 14 metres by 22 metres. These translucent paintings were lit from behind and could be made brighter or less, according to the mood or atmosphere the operator wanted.  
  A review of the event is as follows;

"The visitors, after passing through a gloomy anteroom, were ushered into a circular chamber, apparently quite dark. One or two small shrouded lamps placed on the floor served dimly to light the way to a few descending steps and the voice of an invisible guide gave directions to walk forward. The eye soon became sufficiently accustomed to the darkness to distinguish the objects around and to perceive that there were several persons seated on benches opposite an open space resembling a large window. Through the window was seen the interior of Canterbury Cathedral undergoing partial repair with the figures of two or three workmen resting from their labours. The pillars, the arches, the stone floor and steps, stained with damp, and the planks of wood strewn on the ground, all seemed to stand out in bold relief, so solidly as not to admit a doubt of their substantiality, whilst the floor extended to the distant pillars, temptingly inviting the tread of exploring footsteps. Few could be persuaded that what they saw was a mere painting on a flat surface. The impression was strengthened by perceiving the light and shadows change, as if clouds were passing over the sun, the rays of which occasionally shone through the painted windows, casting coloured shadows on the floor. Then shortly the lightness would disappear and the former gloom again obscure the objects that had been momentarily illumined. The illusion was rendered more perfect by the sensitive condition of the eye in the darkness of the surrounding chamber."
  Daguerre was a larger-than-life painter who seriously desired the real thing in his art and through the Diorama he could achieve this effect by actually bringing the scene to the theatre (almost). Daguerre began his early working years as an architect, and soon after became an assistant stage designer for a theatre. Daguerre was a gifted illusionist in terms of his ability to design sets, which dazzled audiences. These designs he would later coin as a ‚€˜Diorama‚€™.  


JEREMIAH GURNEY (1812 - 1886)

Gurney was an Englishman, a doctor who developed the use of the calcium light system which greatly enhanced the Dissolving Views by allowing for enormous light for projection.

Gurney is also remembered as the winner of a contest put forth by popular photographic-supplies businessman E. Anthony.

The test was who could produce the best whole-plate Daguerreotype. Dissolving Views were also known as Melting Sights, and Mist Pictures.

Jeremiah Gurney
Jeremiah Gurney

Louis J. M. Daguerre 1823

Daguerre opens a second Diorama in Regent‚€™s Park, London. It was Daguerre‚€™s work with the camera obscura (ensuring perspective in his paintings for the Diorama), ), which leads him to desire the ability to 'fix' the images. His painting ‚€˜The Ruins of Holyrood Chapel‚€™, which now hangs in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, was completed with the use of the camera.

L.J.M. Daguerre 1787-1851

  Chevalier presents his ‚€˜meniscus prism‚€™ in the camera obscura instead of lenses and mirrors. In doing this, he avoided the aberration created through curved lenses (lost focus in the centre or fringe of the screen on a plane screen) known as achromatism.  

In 1824 John Clark of London, designed and illustrated a child's table game consisting of sixteen landscape cards with interchangeable views. The game was was known as the Myriorama, and was manufactured by Samuel Leigh.

Nineteenth century printing technology enabled the Myriorama to become a very popular form of picture entertainment because, as the first series of the Myriorama stated; "The Myriorama is a moveable Picture, capable of forming an almost endless variety of Picturesque Scenery".

The cards were first illustrated, then engraved and finally coloured by hand. Varying scenes of the sea, rural cottages, dales, castles, as well as rustic scenes, were fully interchangeable and allowed the user to arrange them in any order thereby creating a near-endless assortment of panoramic landscapes, "quite picturesque".

Originally priced at 15 shillings when first published, and lacking any true fluidity, this simple picture toy reminds one of the smooth movements of the fading in and out from scene to scene in a film.

Cards From A Myriorama By John Clark, 1824
These individual aquatint cards were 20 x 7cm in size, expanding to 20 x 112cm once assembled.
Four cards from a 16-piece set of a Myriorama © Leicestershire County Council
GEORGE BIRCKBECK (1776 - 1841)
  This Englishman used the calcium lights of Gurney in his magic lantern presentations.  
PETER MARK ROGET (1779 - 1869)
  A london physician, Roget had dabbled in the sciences, designing a logarithmic slide scale and becoming well learned in the study of mass water systems. Roget was secretary of the Royal Society and later lectured on perception, prior to his presentation to the society of his ‚€˜Persistence of Vision With Regard To Moving Objects‚€™. He provided an early definition of the phenomenon of the backwards wheel in forward motion, touching upon persistence of vision. Roget is better known of course for his thesaurus.  
T. T. DALES ( - )
  Dales creates a similar picture toy to that of Clark's Myriorama. He calls his the Panoramacopia.  

JOHN AYRTON PARIS (1785 - 1856)
  A year before Fitton's paper toy, Paris began manufacturing what he called a Thaumatrope. It is a simple illusionary toy meant to imitate motion. It consists of a circular disk made of paper, which has an image on each side. When twirled by connected string, the images combine to give an animated effect. The bird-in-a-cage was a popular theme.  
Thaumatrope is Greek and means 'Magic Motion'. The Thaumatrope of Paris is a simplistic toy of motion, and supremely illustrates the concept of persistence of vision. This circular Thaumatrope (right) is a round piece of firm paper with a birdcage on one side and the bird on the other. Holes at each end allow string to be tied, and when the string is held taught in the fingers, can be rolled between the finger and thumb. When this happens the two images combine to create the Bird Cage effect. (Animation courtesy Ruth Hayes, Randon Motion).
A Modern Animation Of A Thaumatrope In Action

  Ritchie used a gas powered lamp for projection of pre-Phantasmagoria in the magic lantern.  


Fitton devised a small circular disk made of paper, which twirled while hanging on a string. On one side was a picture of a bird and on the other, a picture of a cage. The bird appeared to be in the cage once a certain speed was achieved. One JOHN AYRTON PARIS, a physician from Edinburgh, began to commercially manufacture a toy, which was strikingly similar. He called it a ‚€˜Thaumatrope‚€™ and described it in his ‚€˜Philosophy in Sport Made Science in Earnest‚€™, 1826. W.H.Wollaston, Charles Babbage and Herschel all have a hand in a similar invention.

Another paper toy of Paris (right) from 1825 caught the imagination of many, as the "Bird in the Cage". Whilst providing a glimpse into the possibility of real movement, the Thaumatrope is the simplest way of showing what Persistence of Vision actually is. How else would we see the bird in the cage, except by the latent action of the retina? The bird was drawn on one side, and the cage on the other. (SEE ABOVE)
A Poster From John Ayrton Paris Advertising His Thaumatrope c.1825


  Philip Carpenter manufactured top-quality magic lanterns and slides. Operating in London England, he designed a mass-production process of creating copper-plated lanternslides. His sister Mary Carpenter continued the business upon his death along with William Westley. From 1835 the company was known as Carpenter & Westley.  
THOMAS DRUMMOND (1797 - 1840)
  Drummond was born in Edinburgh Scotland and invented the signal light which produced lime light through the use of calcium oxide. Drummond found that lime was far more brilliant than an Argand lamp and that in a concave mirror the rays of light also were more concentrated at the focal point. He further found that the rays of light were reflected in close parallel rays and not near the focus where few are found as is found with Argand light.  
  Daguerre hears of the work of Niepce, and within three years will have agreed to a partnership with him for the purposes of advancing the photographic process.  
  This Scot is considered to be the pre-inventor of the Panorama (or Cyclorama). The Panorama took the form of a circular rotunda where the audience sat in the centre, viewing the larger-than-life scenes that circled them. Typically, the ceiling would be covered for effect, partly to keep eyes from wandering and other distractions. Consider today's Planetarium.  

View From The Window At Le Gras -  Restoration 1826

Using a pewter plate that was sensitized with bitumen of Judea, Niépce went into history as the producer of the first image that was ‚€œfixed‚€Ě permanently. In our story of the history of the discovery of cinematography, few names deserve the recognition Niepce does. Clearly, throughout countless resources, histories, commentaries and documentation's, Niepce must be recognized as the one who ahead of others, was able to secure an image from further action of light. The Heliograph as he called it, or ‚€œdrawing of the sun‚€Ě, was made in a camera obscura and took an eight hour exposure. The extant photograph is 8" x 6.5" and resides at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin. The photograph is part of the Gernsheim Collection and is known as ‚€œView From The Window At Le Gras‚€Ě.

This image (left) is a reproduction print of gelatin silver and watercolor made from the original photograph found in Niépce's possessions. Immediately below, see the photograph in it's original state.

1826 - Earliest Extant Photograph? "View from the Window at Le Gras". Joseph Nicephore Ni√©pce is credited with producing the world's first permanently captured "image", which he called a Heliograph (or Sun Drawing). Ni√©pce's photograph (above) was made in 1826 and was taken from a window looking out across the roof tops of the Ni√©pce home. He used a pewter plate that was sensitized with bitumen of Judea. The photograph was made in a camera obscura and took an eight -hour exposure. The extant photograph is 8" x 6.5" and resides at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin. It was discovered by chance, in March of 1952 in London when found along with letters written by Niepce. The photograph is part of the Gernsheim Collection and is known as ‚€œView From The Window At Le Gras‚€Ě. In 1813, Ni√©pce obtained an image but it was not fixed, and eventually faded. (Image Source: the Gernsheim Collection, Ransom Centre, University of Texas, Austin), (Thanks to Robert Carter, Photographic Historical Society of Canada).

This image (above) is a reproduction print of gelatin silver and watercolor made from the original photograph found in Niepce's possessions. Immediately below, see the photograph in its original state.

The Window From Which It Has Been Determined The First 'Fixed' And Extant Photograph Was Taken
View From The Window At Le Gras - Pre Restoration
In his research of the Niépce photograph, Gernsheim visited what remained of the property, writing "Part of Niépce's house, showing the dormer window from which the first photograph was taken." The photo above is fig.19 from Helmut Gernsheim's 'History of Photography'.
Niépce's Heliograph (above) prior to restoration through the Helmut Gernsheim & Kodak Research Laboratory, March 21, 1952.
The pewter plate is identified as "G's Photograph".
The Gelatin silver print is 20.3 x 25.4 cm in size.
Photograph (above) From Radio Times Hulton Picture Library  

In researching the place and angle from which the famous Niépce photograph was taken from, historian Paul Marillier reconstructed a model of the Niépce property at Le Gras. With many of the buildings either gone now or changed, Marillier used maps of the time and other graphical and photographical views including a woodcut made from a photograph taken in 1850.

The model was recreated to the correct scale from official documents of the property published in 1833. This picture (right) represents the findings of Marillier's work.

As Marillier put it, "The purpose of this was to make comparative tests of the possible points, from which "G's photograph" was taken".

Material taken from The Photographic Journal (London: RPS), April 1967, Vol. 107 (4), pp130–40

The Angle And Location From Which The Niepce Photograph Was Taken Using A Model
Photograph (above) by Paul Marillier using his model to obtain the correct window, angle and date that the 'View From The Window At Le Gras' was taken.
Marillier and his associate Pierre Harmant dispute Gernsheim's claim that Niépce used a meniscus prism in the camera obscura when the photograph was taken. Niépce ordered one from Chevalier but found it unsatisfactory in acquiring a correct image and returned it. Corresepondence from Chevalier's letters identifies the date of the sending of the lens to February 1827. Their (Gernsheim, Marillier, Harmant) combined and invaluable research places the probable date the photograph was taken at between 4 June and 18 July 1827.
1825 - Earliest Extant Photograph? "Boy Leading His Horse"
What could likely be an even earlier "world's first photograph" than ‚€œView From The Window At Le Gras‚€Ě , is yet another Niépce Heliograph known as "Boy Leading His Horse". The photograph has been authenticated as having been produced in 1825, almost one full year prior to Window At Le Gras, and is accompanied by correspondence and letters written in Niépces' own hand. The picture (below) is of a faded pen and ink drawing of a boy and his horse.

The Heliograph had been known of for 50 years. It had been kept in the home of a Parisian collector of old books and photos.

In 2002 it was auctioned off by Sotheby's and bought by the French National Library (Bibliotheque Nationale) for a national treasure at a price of $392,000US (£500,000). Sotheby's listed it as "the earliest recorded image created by photographic means."

Documents sold with the picture are not made public and no one other than the owner can know for sure how the Heliograph was made. The likely technique used by Niépce would have been the coating of a copper plate with light-sensitive bitumen, then taking a negative imprint of the pen and ink drawing and use that in creating the Heliograph.

In exposing the light-sensitive coating to the sunlight, a positive image is produced.

Joseph Nicephore Niépces' 1825 Heliograph Known As 'Boy And His Horse'
Joseph Nicephore Niépces' 1825 Heliograph (above) 'Boy Leading His Horse'
Developing the plate with oil of lavender and white petroleum produced a negative of the plate. The image was then etched into the metal producing the plate.  
The 'photograph' was not made in the camera obscura, but was created using light-sensitive substances and the use of direct sunlight. The evidence to date [February 2007] has not been disputed. Niépce cites the very 6-by-4 inch reproduction (the Heliograph) in a letter to his son Isidore. The bookseller who owned the Niépce photograph was identified as Andre Jammes who had been collecting photographs since the 1950's. In a joint statement, Jammes and Sotheby's proclaimed, "This image and its accompanying correspondence oblige us to rewrite those crucial first stages of the history of photography."

  Niépce presented a paper to the Royal Society in London including with it, several of his Heliographs on metals and glass. Because his process was kept from the work, he was refused the privilege of presenting.  
BASIL HALL (1788 - 1844)
  Born in Edinburgh Scotland, Hall wrote a book entitled ‚€˜Forty Etchings Made With The Camera Lucida In North America‚€™ in which he sustained the instrument‚€™s worth to the traveler, liberating him from ‚€œThe Triple Misery Of Perspective, Proportion And Form‚€Ě. The publication of course, includes forty etchings.  

Michael Faraday 1827
MICHAEL FARADAY (1791 - 1867)

Faraday wrote a piece in the ‚€˜Journal of the Royal Institute of Great Britain‚€™, describing the motion phenomenon we see as still movement or even reverse movement, actually comes from varying degrees of speed in the forward motion. The immediate thought upon reading this is the spinning wagon wheel of the western, which although traveling in the forward motion of between 10-30 miles per hour, appears to be either motionless, or moving backwards. Faraday had been building a variety of mechanical wheels with spokes turning at different speeds.

  Invents the Kaleidophone which provided a combination of Kaleidoscope effects with primitive musical sounds.  
  Plateau had been investigating persistence of vision at the University of Ghent, Belgium and in 1829 published his experiments. In 1836 he will establish the law of the ‚€˜stroboscopic effect‚€™.  
  A youth, Wattles attempts to retain an image on plain paper that was soaked in potash and placed within his camera obscura. His unsuccessful attempt was ridiculed by many as simple "moonshine" thoughts. Henry Snelling in 1849 wrote 'The History and Practice of the Art of Photography' and in it made the false claime that Wattles was the rightful inventor of photography. Snelling said Wattles invented photography in 1828 but was reticent about announcing his discovery due to possible "ridicule". Wattles referred to photographs as a "Solar picture drawing".
  AUTHOR'S NOTE: We believe it important to note that up until the work of Marey and Muybridge (1872), pictures used for the purpose of motion recreation, where all drawings or photographic-type transparencies of posed motion. Even though Plateau suggested using photographs in their place in 1848, it took another 24 years before happening. Muybridge especially with his work in stop-action series photography, ultimately paved the way for photographs to finally be used (over 50 years after their discovery) in the formation of moving pictures. Then, subjects did not have to be still or even pose as still. They could move freely and be captured as moving, and then presented as if captured that way.  

Pouring Nitrates From A Daguerretype 1829

Sign a ten year partnership agreement to mutually work on Heliography and Daguerreotypes for the cause of photography. Within some of the correspondence Daguerre writes, "there should be found some way of getting a large profit out of the invention before publication...".

Daguerre and Niepce began work in partnership on the process of photography.

Main Page Contents Preface Introduction Bibliography Related Sites Critiques About The Author Copyright Information 900BC-1399 1400-1599 1600-1649 1650-1699 1700-1749 1750-1799 1800-1829 1830-1849 1850-1859 1860-1869 1870-1879 1880-1884 1885-1899 1890-1894 1895 - 1900 Planetel Communications Email The Author Top of Page
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