Autochromes Lumière


A Modern Revival

The Popularisation of Colour Photography
The Autochrome was - and in large part remains - a mythic process. The fruit of meticulous work and the passion of its inventors, it was also the result of the scientific, technical, and industrial contexts in place at the beginning of the 20th century. The complex system of stratification made it stand out from earlier photographic systems. But its simplicity of use, which rested on a device of audacious design in terms of the possibilities offered by the technology of the age, made it a success.
Prefiguring other modes of 20th century manufacturing that put more and more complex photosensitive layers in place, the Lumière brothers inaugurated the concept of industrial colour photography manufacturing. The Lumière brothers were also at the forefront of a more global movement towards colour, which at the end of the 20th century would mean the marginalisation of black and white photography, even if the use of the additive screen process in photography disappeared along with the last Lumière processes in the 1950's.
Today however, additive synthesis is experiencing a modern revival, particularly in devices using television, LCD or plasma screens. Of the same order of ideas, the Autochrome - originally based on simple dyed potato starch - might also recall the trichromatic filters covering the CCD sensors in our digital cameras.