Early Colour Photographs

9th June 2016

Early colour photographs fascinate me. My Nan used to hand colour photographs and I was always mesmerised by their other world quality. These pictures are by John Cimon Warburg using the process Autochrome. This early colouring technique was patented by the Lumière brothers in 1903, a strange process that produced a colour transparency using a layer of potato starch grains that were dyed red, green and blue. It was a complicated developing process but it offers a window of colour into a forgotten world.

1909 Daydreams by John Cimon Warburg
1910 On the Sands by John Cimon Warburg 1910

Warburg had the time and money to dedicate to his craft as he suffered severely from asthma and wasn’t able to work full time. Being born into privilege allowed him to hone this early technique.

Cow on the beach in this early colour photograph
Japanese Parasol Autochrome

Autochromes need longer exposure times so the images are more hazy and dreamlike. I have picked out a few which captured my imagination, you can see more here, collated by Retronaut.

1910 The Neptune Fountain, Cheltenham
Early colour photograph of Victorian children playing by the sea

< Back to previous page

< Back to Blog

Pencil Illustration
Okay, thank you
This website uses cookies, to read our privacy policy please click here.