These early color photographs offer a unique glimpse into the rich and varied aspects of life in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. Photochromes are an historically and aesthetically important part of the very earliest development of color photography. They have been collected internationally by both private collectors, universities and museums. Photochromes have been the subject of many recent publications, as well as major exhibitions in Paris, Geneva, and Zürich. A major, new publication by TASCHEN was released in Spring, 2014.
In 1889, these brilliantly colored photographic prints, invented by Zürich-based Orel Fussli & Co., won a gold medal at the World Exposition in Paris. To a public familiar only with black & white photographs, these full-color prints were astounding in their beauty and realism and they triggered strong interest among collectors at the time. Unfortunately, very few photochromes survive of any given image and even fewer survive in excellent overall condition. Given the condition, provenance, rarity and importance of our photochromes, this represents an unusual opportunity to acquire these important, beautiful vintage photographs.
The Photochrome process is distinct from all other color photography. The process used high quality color inks which were laid down on paper using four to twelve lithographic stones per print, with each stone weighing as much as 65 pounds. A final varnish coat gave each print a lustrous patina and added depth and richness. Thus a beautiful hand-colored quality was achieved. Photochromes were the first commercially available form of color photography and as such have a special historical importance. This is evidenced by the fact that a major Spanish museum, the Reina Sofia, recently purchased an extensive collection of photochromes for its permanent collection, and photochromes are also found in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum, Yale University, the Library of Congress and numerous private collections and over fifty public collections.
This complex, patented process, the exact details of which are still unknown, set the standard for color photography at the time. Unfortunately, the process required an extraordinary amount of time, highly skilled labor and money and by the 1920s; the process was abandoned because of the great expense and the significant logistical challenges it entailed. They remained largely forgotten until ten years ago when renewed enthusiasm for early photography spurred a resurgence of their interest.
Orell Fussli & Co., (Photoglob) Zürich, Switzerland or Detroit Photographic Co. (North America) to F.J. Haynes & family to Christopher G. Cardozo (current owner).
This archive has been intact since the early 1900’s. It is the largest and broadest intact archive of photochromes known to exist.