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I wonder if anyone can shed light on the possible existence of a Chevreul photographic process. I’ve come across the following announcement in the Lynn Advertiser of 28th March 1857.

"W. Taylor begs to announce that he has completed his arrangements for carrying out the beautiful system of pure, untouched Photography, so successfully practised by M. Chevreul, of Paris, – producing Portraits equal in richness to the highest finished Mezzotint Engravings, and leaving nothing to wish for either as regards faithful resemblance or artistic finish."

I understand that Michel-Eugène Chevreul was a chemist whose career included work on dyes, colour theory and the chemistry of fats, but I can find no mention of a specific photographic process being credited to him. He was, however, involved - both as mentor and promoter - with the work of Abel Niépce de Saint-Victor, who made advances in the preparation of glass negatives and albumen paper, and there do seem to have been occasions when Chevreul presented Niépce’s work to the photographic community. Is it, therefore, likely that Taylor was actually adopting (and misattributing) one or more of Niépce’s improvements to the wet collodion process? Or have I missed something? Any thoughts would be most welcome.


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Comment by Robert Pols on April 30, 2020 at 22:43

Thank you. I had missed that. Unfortunately the 1865 announcement came too late for William Taylor, who died in 1861. Some refinement of the wet collodion process seems most likely to  have caught his attention. (References in his adverts to 'Talbotype photography' [March 1855] and 'by the glass or paper process' [May 1866] indicate that he had been going down the negative/positive route.) I've found references to Chevreul in the BJP during the 50s, but nothing that seems to amount to a distinct 'system' of photography.

Thanks again - I'm grateful for the interest.

Comment by Michael Pritchard on April 30, 2020 at 19:16

Chevreul developed a process of colour daguerreotypes which was described in the BJP 29 December 1865, p. 653 'Historical Notes on Photography in Natural Colours'. He seems to have done much besides in photography and across the sciences. I am sure others will be able to add to this. 

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