Autochromes Lumière

 

Antoine, The Founding Father

Experimenting with Electricity
Always attentive to potential tools of the trade, in 1879 Antoine installed "the electric fairy," an artificial light source for his photographic sessions. In Lyon, known as the "capital of fog" this would have been especially useful. Capable now of disregarding the climate conditions, Antoine took the portrait of all the high society of Lyon. At the time, taking a photograph with artificial light  required a veritable pyrotechnic spectacle, which would indeed make an impression upon the photographic plate... as well as upon the public! Always a good publicist,Antoine convened neighbours, friends, and journalists to witness the spectacle. The next morning, the press was unanimous: "a daring of the most enterprising sort, spectacularly presented in the handsome establishment of Monsieur Lumière." But ultimately, this investment did not entirely live up to his hopes, even though the business had begun to meet with genuine commercial success. 

The First Rewards of Recognition
In keeping with the spirit of the age, every good inventor had to present his inventions at the expositions of the day. Antoine received his first reward, a Gold Medal, in Lyon in 1872.  For Louis Maynard, "the many portraits of Monsieur Lumière are positively remarkable." At the exposition in 1873 in Vienna, he was awarded a Medal of Progress for his "grand portrait de femme." Then, in 1874, the French Photographic Society awarded him two medals, for his portraits and for his projections. And then again, in 1878, Antoine won a Gold Medal at the Universal Exposition in Paris for "the quality of his photographic portraits." From 1887 on, the production of photographic materials replaced photography for Antoine Lumière; nevertheless, the awards continued to accumulate: Certificate of Honour in La Havre (1887), Grand Prize in Barcelona (1888), as well as Grand Prize at the Universal Expositions of Paris in 1889 and 1900 for "the quality of his photosensitive plates." At the exposition of Saint-Louis (Louisiane) in 1904, Antoine Lumière took the place of pride at the centre of the French selections; his plates, his reels of film, sleeves, bottles, and photographic tests were the most celebrated, even without him so much as competing, since he was a jury judge! Throughout the 20th century, Lumière's products would be presented around the world in public forums such as these, truly the Olympics of the industry.

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