Autochromes Lumière

Conservation

A Delicate Conservation
Compared to most other colour photographic processes, Autochromes were relatively stable and well preserved. Nonetheless, they remained susceptible to damage when exposed to light for long periods of time. The light stability depends on the dyes composition: violet granules are the most light-sensitive, followed by orange, and then by green.
But the most widely-spread source of damage was excessive humidity. To preserve Autochromes, the temperature and humidity has to be controlled. Each Autochrome plate is placed in an enclosure and store vertically or horizontally, a few at a time, in specially adapted boxes. The original wood or cardboard boxes have to be preserved separatelly as they are a valuable source of information.

As with all original photographs of the time, Autochromes had to be handled carefully with gloves. The deposit of oils and acids of fingers would leave them prone to deterioration. Finally, to protect the intrinsic fragility of the plates, it was best to avoid public showings.

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