Brief History of Photography

History of the search for color photography (1810-1961)

Color photography also had an early start when Seebeck found in 1810 that wet silver chloride temporarily acquires the colors of light (a phenomenon that was "rediscovered" by Daguerre in 1827 and by Saint Victor near 1851).

Levi L. Hill is mentioned as having accidentally produced a color photograph in 1850 in the USA but no evidence survives and he declared that he was unable to reproduce the accident, so the oldest surviving color photograph is this 1861 transparency by the British physicist James Clerck Maxwell:

Oldest surviving color photography: a transparency by Maxwell (1861).

Maxwell's procedure was not used afterwards, so practical color photography was independently invented by Charles Cros and Louis Ducos du Hauron in France in 1867 and 1869 respectively.

Possibly the oldest color scenery that survives: View of Angouléme, France. Louis Ducos du Hauron, 1877.