Hippolyte Bayard

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Hippolyte Bayard , born 20 January 1801 in Breteuil-sur-Noye, died 14 mai 1887 in Nemours, was the inventor of a photographic process. Since 1837 he could produce persisting photograms by means of his self-developed direct positive process[1]. Thus he was one of the inventors of photography since its invention was officially acknowledged in 1839 by the French government, but Daguerre and Niépce named as its official inventors. Bayard applied for acknowledgement of his invention just before that official proclamation. He even organised the World's first public exhibition of photographs in the Salle des Commissaires-prisseurs in Paris, one month before the government's proclamation. But Arago, the responsible officer and member of the academy of science, neglected Bayard's efforts. 30 paper images achieved by Bayard's direct positive process were shown at the exhibition.

For his 1840 self-portrait he mimed a drowned person. This was easier for him since he could photograph himself with closed eyes - exposure time was 12 minutes. The self-portrait as half-naked man made him the first avantgarde photographer of the World. Concerning him as inventor of photography he reached his goal of persisting images through his direct positive process as soon as Daguerre with his daguerreotype process. Fox Talbot even reached that goal 2 years earlier in 1835. But the first who achieved persisting photographs was Niépce in 1827 with his experimental process.

Bayard soon learned Daguerreotype and Talbotype photography, the photographic processes of his inventor concurrents. He became a renowned photographer. In 1851 he was co-founder of the Société Héliographique.


  1. About the direct positive process: "It involved exposing silver chloride paper to light, which turned the paper completely black. It was then soaked in potassium iodide before being exposed in a camera. After the exposure, it was washed in a bath of hyposulfite of soda and dried." (from Wikipedia)
  2. Bayard wrote onto this famous photograph's back: The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with his discovery. The Government which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life....! ... He has been at the morgue for several days, and no-one has recognized or claimed him. Ladies and gentlemen, you'd better pass along for fear of offending your sense of smell, for as you can observe, the face and hands of the gentleman are beginning to decay.
    This was meant as protest note against his efforts' neglection by the French government. H. B. 18ieme October of 1840"