Birth of the Photochrom

After the invention of photography in 1826, the desire to have color photographs was always an obsession. In the 1880s, despite considerable progress in photography, the photos had been still monochrome. Different experiments had been done. For example, some people had colored the negatives (Hand-coloring of photographs), and others had applied the Trichromy theory to photography.

Hand colored photo form the photo of Félix BONFILS, Circa 1870, ⓒWeltmuseum Wien

A revolutionary invention in photography occurred in the 1880s. The Photochrom was invented by Hans-Jakob SCHMID (1856-1924) who was an employee of the Swiss publishing company Orell Füssli & Cie. The company applied for a patent for the Photochrom both in Europe and in the United States on January 4th,1888. The company also commercialized the Photochrom via its new subsidiary Photochrom Zurich (now Photoglob Zurich) in 1895. In fact, the technique was already tested both in Vienna and France in 1860-1870s. However, the Orell Füssli & Cie was the first to really exploit the Photochrom since 1889.