Autochromes Lumière


Autochrome images are viewed backlit by an artificial or natural light source. Most often, the images were projected. The 9x12cm image format, the most widely used, had been especially designed for this purpose as the larger formats were maladapted to the projectors and other mechanisms involved. The images could also be viewed with ambient light, and so we often find the plates adorned with two small hooks or with a fine chain for suspending the Autochrome from a lampshade or the window frame of a home or business.
The Lumière factories also produced a collection of objects that they presented in their annual catalogue and the plates were placed in cases with relatively large frame to allow unhampered viewing by ambient light. A folding case, called a Diascope, allowed one to examine the prints through a mirror where the image appeared in reflection. A number of other similar devices were marketed as well for displaying and admiring screen plates.

Autochromes were designed for standardized viewing and a wide range of commercial merchandise was created for one to admire these photographs. The brand Photo-couleurs, run Jules Gervais-Courtellemont, produced elegant and practical frames to order, made up of an interchangeable case and an electronic device at the back for illuminating the plate. Other luxury items, with decorative finesse and beautiful woodwork, were also available.
Among the most original and creative was a piece with a stereoscopic viewer that created a three dimensional effect from the double image. Another stereoscopic viewer, thanks to a mechanical system, could project the images one after another.

The Chromodioscope was presented as a light table equipped with an achromatic lens, designed to limit the effects of chromatic distortion.
The Mirochrome was a device made up of a plate-holder with an inclining mirror for directing light, which could also aid in retouching the image impression.
The Photochromoscope was a small wooden trunk equipped with a mirror on which the image was projected; a lens situated between the mirror and the plate enlarged the image and magnified the relief. The banker, Albert Kahn, organised a number of social projection meetings with two projectors employed in parallel for moving smoothly through sequences of images.