National Media Museum to display three of the world’s oldest photos
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National Media Museum to display three of the world’s oldest photos

Un Clair de Lune, c 1827. Photograph on pewter Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, (1765-1833)

Three photographs taken by Joseph Nicephore Niépce, a Frenchman born in 1765, will soon be exhibited by the National Media Museum. These particular images, which their creator called 'heliographs', were taken during the 1820s, and are part of a set of 16 image located throughout the world. All three images are said to be amongst the earliest of photographs ever taken, featuring Le Cardinal d'Amboise's portrait, a painting of Christ carrying his cross, and some overshadowed landscape thought possibly to be a graveyard.

'Heliographs' is constructed from the Greek word helios, which means 'drawing with the sun'. Niépce dubbed his images as such due to how they were created: by exposing the medium - in this case, a pewter-based lithography and asphalt - to light within a camera obscura, hardening the piece. The resulting images, because they were made with light, are considered the earliest photographs.

The three photographs to be displayed were given to the Royal Photographic Society by photographer Henry Peach Robinson's son back in 1924. Later on after these photos were taken, Niépce went on to partner with Daguerre, known for the Daguerreotype, though he wasn't given any posthumous credit for hiss work on the process.