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AutochromesOn June 10 1907, L‘Illustration, the first illustrated French magazine founded in 1843 organized at its Paris headquarters the official launch of the color process patented four years earlier by the Lumière brothers: the Autochrome.
In front of an audience of six hundred selected guests including major personalities from the arts, politics and the press, Auguste Lumière unveiled the "miracle" of color photography. L’ Illustration was the perfect place for establishing international interest and the conference was a great success. A few days later, in its June 15 1907 issue, L’ Illustration was able to offer its readers the first color photo feature in the history of the press by publishing the Autochromes plates taken by a collaborator to the magazine, Léon Gimpel, a pioneer of photo reportage, who had been initiated into the Autochrome process by the Lumière brothers themselves.
Several Autochromes were reproduced on separate plates and inserted in the magazine: including one that showed a group of infantry soldiers in Paris photographed on May Day 1907.
The first news photograph in color that appeared in the Illustration in 1907 was of the King and the Queen of Denmark and the article that accompanied the photograph indicated that it was a technical milestone: Taking about ten days to produce the 92,000 copies of the magazine, it was undoubtedly a major turning point and we all know what color photograph went on to become.
In the thirties, L‘Illustration also used the Finlay and the Kodachrome processes to reproduce color pictures however the majority of the color images published continued to be Autochromes until the magazine ceased publication in 1944.