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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

Dates:  1765, 7 March - 1833, 5 July
Born:  France, Chalon-sur-Saône
Active:  France
Gender:  Male
French inventor and photographer. Niépce experimented with fixing an image from 1813-1822, when he successfully produced an image on tin. Inventor of the heliographic process (1824) which was not a commercial success. He took the first known photograph from nature in 1827. By 1826/7 he was using a pewter base, etched with bitumen of Judaea and lavender oil but lack of interest in his invention caused him to leave his three heliographs in Kew when he visited London in 1827, and from there, these exceedingly rare items made their way to the RPS Collection. His contribution to photography, has, until recently, been overwhelmed, by his partnership with Daguerre, who, after Niépce‘s death in 1833, took and improved his research and, in 1839, launched the Daguerreotype, effectively claiming that the invention was his own.
[With contributions by Pam Roberts]

Preparing biographies

HomeContents > Further research

Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
2013, Niepce in England: Proceedings of a Conference Held at the National Media Museum, Bradford, 13-14 October 2010, (Royal Photographic Society) isbn-10: 0904495043 isbn-13: 978-0904495041 [Δ
Fouquet, Victor, 1867, La vérité sur l'invention de la photographie, (Paris: Library of Authors and of the Academy of Booklovers) [Δ
Fouquet, Victor, 1935, The truth concerning the invention of photography. Nicéphore Niépce, his life, letters and work, (NY: Tennant and Ward) [Translated by Edward Epstean from the Paris 1867 edition] [Δ
Fouquet, Victor, 1973, The truth concerning the invention of photography. Nicéphore Niépce, his life, letters and work, (New York: Arno Press) [Reprint of the Paris: Library of Authors and of the Academy of Booklovers 1935 edition; translated by Edward Epstean from the Paris 1867 edition] [Δ
Jay, Paul & Frizot, Michel, 1983, Nicéphore Niépce. Lettres et documents choisis par Paul Jay. Introduction, présentation et notes Paul Jay et Michel Frizot avec la collaboration de Francoise Ducros. A l’occasion du 150e anniversaire de la mort de Niépce, (Paris: Centre National de la Photographie/ Ministère de la Culture et de la Francophonie) isbn-10: 2867540054 [Δ
Marignier, Jean-Louis, 1989, Nicéphore Niépce. Héliographies, (Chalon-sur-Saone: Musée Nicéphore Niépce) isbn-10: 2903292760 [Δ
Marignier, Jean-Louis, 1999, Nicéphore Niépce: l'invention de la photographie - Un savant, une époque, (Paris: Éditions Belin) isbn-10: 2701124336 isbn-13: 978-2701124339 [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan -
C. Laguiche
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce 
1795 (ca)
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.
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Visual indexes

ThumbnailJoseph Nicéphore Niépce: Cardinal d'Amboise
ThumbnailJoseph Nicéphore Niépce: Un Clair de Lune - Moonlight
ThumbnailJoseph Nicéphore Niépce: View from the Window at Le Gras
All photographs by this photographer 

Internet biographies

Terms and Conditions

Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer.Show on this siteGo to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
Show on this siteGo to website
The International Photographers Hall of Fame has provided a biography.Show on this siteGo to website

Internet resources

Terms and Conditions

Nicéphore Niépce ... 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.361-362 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Joseph Nicéphore Niépce.] 
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.202-203 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Koetzle, Hans-Michael 2002 Photo Icons: The Story Behind the Pictures - Volume 1 (Koln: Taschen) [This book discusses one photograph "View from the Study Window (1827)" by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in considerable detail. An excellent source for a detailed analysis.] 
• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce are included in this classic history.] 
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