"One day, quite some time ago, I happened on a photograph of Napoleon's youngest brother, Jerome, taken in 1852

And I realized then, with an amazement I have not been able to lessen since: "I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor."

...... 'that rather terrible thing which is there in every photograph: the return of the dead.'

" Photography transformed subject into object: In order to take the first portraits (around 1840)  the subject had to assume long poses under a glass roof in bright sunlight; to become an object made suffer as much as a surgical operation; then a device was invented, a kind of prosthesis invisible to the lens, which supported and maintained the body in its passage to immobility;  this headrest was the pedestal of the statue I would become, the corset of my imaginary essence."

Quotes from Roland Barthes meditation on photography.

Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida-Reflections on Photography, 1980, 2000 ISBN 0 09 9225417

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (07Mar1765 Chalon-sur Saône, Saône-et-Loire,-05 Jul 1833 Saint-Loup de Varennes) is thought to be the first to invent photography via a process called heliography. In 1816 he produced the first image of nature, a view from a window. However the image was unstable and the silver salts coated paper turned black with daylight.  In seeking to stabilize the images produced he  invented photoengraving at first using lithographic stones, then copper and tin.  A coating of bitumen was used to make the first photographs. The bitumen was hardened when exposed to light and the unhardened portion was dissolved away with solvent.  This method required extremely long exposures.  In 1824 he obtained the first ever fixed image of a landscape. The exposure time was several days.  The oldest surviving photograph dates from 1827


Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (18Nov1787 , Cormeilles en Parisis to 10Jul1851 Bry-sur Marne).  Louise Daguerre evolved the photography process  first developed by Nicéphore Niepce, to what would be known as  the daguerrotype.   He went public with his invention  in 1839.   The daguerrotype process was 60-80 times more rapid than the bitumen process invented by Niepce.

Daguerrotype process: A silver plated copper sheet was exposed to iodine vapour to produce a coating of light-sensitive silver iodide on the surface. The plate was then exposed in a camera. The latent image on a daguerrotype plate was developed by exposure to mercury vapour at 75C. The resulting image was then fixed by removing the  unreacted silver iodide with  sodium thiosulfate.  The resulting plate was a unique image that was an exact reproduction of the scene. the image was laterally reversed. To be optimally viewed, the  image had to be viewed at a certain angle. The surface of the plate was subject to tarnishing by exposure to air and was also very soft. The daguerrotype was sealed under glass before framing or mounted in a folding case.  The image was unique and could only be reproduced by  using a camera to photograph the original.  By 1860 very few daguerrotypes were being produced as cheaper processes were in use.

Later developments:

Calotype process introduced in 1841 used paper  impregnated with silver chloride. The images were stabilized with a strong solution of common salt.  Prints could be made via contact printing, but the grain of the paper was visible and this method did not allow for the fine detail present in a daguerrotype.

Wet Collodion process was introduced in the early 1850's: was initially used to produce unique images: Ambrotypes on glass and tintypes on black-lacquered iron sheets.  These images were less expensive than daguerrotypes and easier to view.

In the early 1840s improved lenses dramatically shortened exposure times making portraiture possible.  Daguerrotypes made prior to 1841 are usually of static subjects, such as landscapes.  Modifications to the chemistry used to sensitize the plate also reduced exposure times. Instead of only using iodine vapour, inclusion of bromine and chlorine vapours, increased the sensitivity of the plate. The exposure time could then be reduced to  between 15 and 30 seconds in favourable lighting conditions.

Albumen silver print: Published in January 1847, was the first commercially exploitable method of producing a photographic print on a paper base from a negative. It used the albumen found in egg whites to bind teh photographic chemicals to the paper and was the dominant form of photographic positives from 1855 to the start of the 20th century with a peak in 1860-1890. during the mid-19th century the carte de visite was one of the more popular uses for the albumen silver print.

1847: glass negative

1871 dry plate with bromo silver gelatin


In 1835 Henry Fox talbot invented a viable method of spreading a gelatine emulsion on paper . In 1839 astronomer John Herschel came up with a way to fix image recorded by silver halides. In 1887 these two technologies were first manufactured together as photographic film

1888: teh development of the Kodak camera using photographic film

EArly Hungarian photographers

Károly Szathmári Pap (1812-87) born in Cluj-Napoca: talbotype making to colloidion porcess, produced many famous portrait, ethnographic and building photographs, and also achieved international success with his pictures as a war correspondent during the Russo-Turkish wars. Pál Rosti (1830-74) became a world-traveling photographer out of necessity due to his participation in the freedom struggle; In 1857-58, in Central and South America, he even produced images with aesthetic values ​​on paper negatives

Ferenc Veress (1832-1916) TRansylvania whose early studio depictions of people already reflected individualistic intentions, also achieved a high standard primarily in landscape photography. He taught photography at the University of Cluj, edited and published a magazine (Fényképészeti Lapok, 1882-88),

Balázs Orbán (1829-90), who also photographed in Transylvania in the 1860s, made with the wet process, there are works that can also be classified aesthetically. Although his main work, the description of Székelyföld (Vol. 1-6, first edition. 1868-73) conveys his recordings in woodcut format, at least based on the original images that remain in fragments, we can infer that he was a demanding recording artist.

Antal Simonyi (1821-92), who turned from a portrait painter to a photographer, consciously sought to depict the soul in his portrait photography in the sixties - with success in several cases. Károly Divald (1830-97) from Felvidék, who started out as a pharmacist and founder of a dynasty of photographers, took several excellent landscape shots in the Tatras in the 1970s and 1980s. The Darmstadt-born pharmacist, György Klösz (1844-1913) was a Bp. photographer who did not aspire to be an artist, but in the 1980s he created a magical atmosphere in some of his pictures of cities and life. His work as a photo printer surpassed Dival's. The so-called the fashion for composite images in the 19th century at the end it was briefly international.

Brassai, Éva Besnyő, Robert Capa, Lucien Hervé, Ata Kandó, György Kepes, André Kertész, Erzsi Landau, László Moholy-Nagy, Márton Munkácsi. (And let's add to them some lesser-known but influential organizers of photography history: Cornell Capa, founder of the International Center of Photography in New York, Andor Kraszna-Krausz, owner of Focal Press, Stefan Loránt, editor of Picture Post.) We can be proud. . However, our pride can be diminished by the fact that all of the listed important photographers created the best of their oeuvre outside of Hungary. And it is not at all certain that the Hungarian roots are decisive for all of them... Those who stayed at home - Rudolf Balogh, Nándor Bárány, Zoltán Berekméri,are not included) in the world's major photographic history overviews and collections.

n 1840, barely a year after the photographic process was made public, the first professional photographic book in Hungarian was publishedtoo. Jakab Zimmermann, who taught Hungarian at the Teresianum in Vienna, and using the German description, explained Daguerre's method, and based on this, Hungarian photography became possible.

he first photograph - of which we know for sure - was taken by Antal Vállas as part of a presentation on August 29, 1840 in Budapest. At the meeting of the Society of Scientists held in the Lloyd Palace, Válas first presented two pictures taken by him, and then he took pictures of the Danube bank and the Castle with his camera. Unfortunately, both images are lost.
"1840 August 29. Antal Vállas rt. the nation he presented two Daguerre photographs taken by him without oiling or burning to the company gathered in the rooms of the casino facing the Danube; 's at the expense of academia and with a daguerreotype made for him by Viennese optician Plössl of the Danube and kir. took a castle. Using a violet painting instead of a violet in Daguerre's process; however, due to the low transparency of the air, only the coast of Pest was shown in its full light in the image produced in this way. As the cloud grew, and thus there was no hope for a more successful trial, the members now went to the academy hall to continue the ongoing affairs, due to the large number of which the experiment was no longer repeated during the course of this meeting."(Annals of the Hungarian Society of Scientists. Fifth volume 1838-1840. Buda, with the letters of the M. Királyi Egyeteme 1842. year 10, page 73)
Although the first photograph was taken by Antal Vállas at a presentation, he cannot be called the first Hungarian photographer, this title is shared by photo historians Jakab Marastoni and Lajos Kawalky (Kavalki). Professional writers cannot agree on the identity of the first Hungarian daguerreotypist.

Simon Mihály Comparative Hungarian Photographic History (Kecskemét, Hungarian Photographic Museum, 2000)he writes about it in his book: "Károly Karlovits, together with László Beke and Klára Mária Tőry Albecker claimed that Jakab Marastoni, who came from Venice, opened a studio ahead of everyone else. According to Iván Hevesy, Kavalki, a goldsmith turned photographer, made the first daguerreotypes intended for sale. According to Károly Chochol - who bases his claim on scattered reports in the press of the time - Marastoni opened his studio on June 26, 1840, while Kawalky only started operations in July 1841."

First Hungarian photpgrapher was Jakab MArastoni who opened a shop in Jun1841.

as the first to work professionally in photography in Pest, and in 1841 he was a daguerreotype maker he also opened a studio in the city. It is also a well-known fact that he created the only authentic daguerreotype portrait of Lajos Kossuth that was immortalized in the 19th century. one of the greatest Hungarian historical figures of the 20th century. [...] Jacopo - according to others Giacomo - Marastoni was born in Venice in 1804 and continued his painting studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in the Italian city. He came to Hungary in 1832. He first lived in Bratislava, then in 1835 he settled in Pest. He was considered a popular portrait painter of the Biedermeier era. In 1841, the newspapers reported on him as a daguerreotype maker. [...] The above-mentioned Kossuth picture - in which Kossuth immortalized Lajos Kossuth and his brother-in-law József Ruttkay and Pál Both - as noted by the daguerreotype on the edge of the passport, was also photographed with an exposure time of 8 seconds, so the picture was taken sometime in 1841 .made around July 14th. [...] Marastoni opened the First Hungarian Academy of Painting in Pest in 1846, where he allegedly taught daguerreotype making in addition to painting. He became blind in 1859 and died penniless in an insane asylum in 1860." 

There is less information available about Lajos Kawalky, Margit Szakács, who was already quoted, discusses the opening of photography studios in Hungary in chronological order alongside Marastoni, where she mentions Kawalky "only" as the fifth photographer. After Marastoni, in June 1842 Ferenc Tarsch opened a shop in Háromkorona utca (today Alpári Gyula utca), in 1843 Khogler opened a studio in Régiposta utca, who studied with Marastoni. According to press reports, he took his pictures for 3 HUF. Not long after, another competitor appeared; Stuhr, who came to Pest from Berlin and stayed on the third floor of the Tigris guest house in Nádor Street, then in September 1843 the cheese announced that there were already four studios in the capital. The fourth studio was opened by the Frenchman Jules Darier in the Coburgh house in Feldunasor.
According to Szákács, Kawalky was our first photographer who consciously chose photography as his life's profession. Kawalky was born in Danzig and settled in Pest in 1838, where he learned goldsmithing. After a few years, however, he announced himself as a daguerreotype photographer, who first worked for Stuhr and then opened his own studio. Thanks to the solid prices of Kawalky's studio (he made a picture for two pengő forints) and advertising, he became increasingly popular. (He took this idea from Marastoni, who was the first in Hungary to introduce image-making advertising.) Kawalky placed these advertising images in the windows of his stores with the appropriate advertising text.
His studio is the only one of which a contemporary description has been preserved: "The room shows an artistic disorder, you can see equipment and tools, and among them people who have been waiting for four hours for their portrait to be completed in 10 seconds. During this time, above the finished and ready-made portraits" [...] "when the model sits down, the artist aims his instrument at her, suddenly takes off the lid, takes six steps back, approaches six steps, suddenly puts the lid back up again... the picture he takes it out, the waiting people rush over and see that there is nothing on the shoulder blade...". However, after a few minutes of another operation, the image can be taken over. (published: The charm of the photograph, Budapest, MFSZ-Szabadtér Kiadó,



1989) .

Sandor Petofi Daguerrrotype 1847

Dagerrotype of Lajos Kosuth and Ferenc Pulszky 1852

Daguerrotype of unknown National guard f 1848-1849 revolutuion

Photographs in 1902 f survivng 1849/1849 soldiers

One of the major imporvements to teh daguerrotype process ws the introduction of improved lens by a Hungarian Jozsef Petzval

József Petzvál  He was born in Szepesség in 1807, completed his elementary schools in Lőcsé and Kassa, then obtained an engineering qualification at the Institutum Geometricum in Pest, and then a doctorate in mathematics. In 1832, he already works as a university teacher, teaching geometry, mathematics and mechanics. He initially taught in Pest, then from 1837 at the University of Vienna.  Although Daguerre is perhaps the most well-known among the great names of modern photography, without any bias we have to include Petzvále as well. The daguerreotype, introduced in 1839, started out as an extremely difficult process, since the proper exposure of the image required several minutes due to the rudimentary optics. In 1840, Petzvál constructed an epoch-making lens that, with its 1:3.17 brightness, instantly rewrote the photographic practice up to that time. The required exposure time was dramatically shortened with the two-element, achromatic portrait optics. It had 16x better brightness than its contemporary, the French Chevalier, which also had a two-element lens. Production of the lens began in 1841 by the Voigtländer company, based on Petzval's calculations, and until recently it was considered one of the best portrait lenses in the world.

The inventor's success was ensured by his excellent knowledge of mathematics and technical geometry. According to Max Berek, who later became an engineer at the Leitz company, Petzval was ahead of his contemporaries in recognizing the imaging errors that plagued the lenses, and he shed light on how to solve several problems. His calculations – including the famous Petzval condition bearing his name (Σ(P) = 1/(n1f1) + 1/(n2f2) + +…+ 1/(nnfn) = 0 ) – radically changed the production of lenses until then, and they serve as the basis of optical design to this day.

He is credited with the development of the double-lens (so-called binocular) binoculars, the improvement of the Galilean telescope and field objectives, as well as the development of landscape optics called the "dialite lens" and the "camp searchlight", which can be considered the forerunner of today's military reflectors. Following his realization that "glowing solids emit more light than gases burning with a flame", the Austrian Carl Auer von Welsbach created the so-called Auer burner and revolutionized gas lighting, which was common at the time.

Petzval lived in Vienna until the end of his life and became a member of the Academy of Sciences there, and was later elected a non-member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Although she died childless and lonely in 1891, posterity soon recognized her importance. A street was named after him in Vienna and Budapest, and one of the craters on the Moon, 150 km in diameter, is called the Petzval crater.

Preservation of old photos Hungarian website

Hungarian photography