Arthur E. Cope, 'Portrait of the Photographer's Children'

Arthur E. Cope, 'Portrait of the Photographer's Children'

Arthur E. Cope
'Portrait of the Photographer's Children'
About 1910
Museum no. E.2-1995

The Photograph

The autochrome was the first viable colour photograph process. It was introduced by the Lumier brothers in 1905 but not marketed until 1907.

Identifying the Technique

Due to the presence of  microscopic grains of potato starch, dyed red, green and blue, the image shows a grainy quality.

The Process

An autochrome was a coloured, transparent image on glass, similar to a slide. The colour came from a layer of translucent granules of potato starch, each dyed red, blue or green to create a coloured mosaic on the glass plate. During exposure, light travelled through these granules to reach a light sensitive layer below; red granules would only allow re light to travel through, and so on. The light sensitive layer was thus selectively exposed by colour. When the autochrome was held up to the light, the coloured granules were viewed in combination with the black and white image behind to create a colour photograph.

Although autochrome was not the first colour process for true photography, it was the first to be widely and commercially available.


This photograph can be found in Print Room Box 12a.