Photochrome Images Brings The 1890 Back To Life

Bringing the 1890s back to life… in colour! Beautiful photochrome images shed fascinating new light on tourist hotspots around the world more than a hundred years ago

  • Images were reproduced from black and white negatives using early photochrome technique pioneered in the 1880s
  • In an era before colour photography was widely available, they offer a new insight into tourism over 100 years ago
  • The stunning photographs are on display at the Swiss Camera Museum in the town of Vevey until August 21

These beautiful pictures show tourist hotspots around the world while colour photography was first being developed more than a hundred years ago.

The images were reproduced from black and white negatives using the early photochrome technique pioneered in the 1880s by the Swiss chemist Hans Jakob Schmid.

In an era before colour photography was widely available, they shed new light on global destinations in the 1890s with pictures showing street food in Naples in Italy, the Marble Boat at Summer Palace in Peking, China and camel drivers in the Syrian desert. They are on display in an exhibition called ‘A Tour of the World in Photochrome’ at the Swiss Camera Museum in the town of Vevey until August 21.

Photochrome was a complex system where a photographer would take detailed notes of the colours present when the picture was being taken. Black and white negatives were then hand coloured using limestone printing stones as colours required in the final image.

Schmid worked at the Orell Füssli Printing Company in Zurich, which took out a patent for this process in 1888 and founded the company Photoglob Zurich.

The images enjoyed immediate global success but the process dwindled in popularity during the First World War following the arrival on the market of the first colour photography techniques.

A beautiful set of pictures is going on display showing some of the world's best known destinations in vivid more than a hundred years ago. People are pictured eating street food in the Strada del Porto in Naples, Italy in 1899

Tourist hotspot: The ornate Marble Boat is pictured at the Summer Palace in Peking, China some time between 1889 and 1911

Camel drivers are pictured in the Syrian desert, 1895. Black and white negatives were then hand coloured using limestone printing stones as colours required in the final image

Camel drivers are pictured in the Syrian desert, 1895. Black and white negatives were then hand coloured using limestone printing stones as colours required in the final image

The images were injected with colour using a technique to transform black and white negatives. One of the images, taken in 1893, shows the Hotel Riffelhaus at Riffelberg in Switzerland with a stunning view of the Matterhorn

The images were injected with colour using a technique to transform black and white negatives. One of the images, taken in 1893, shows the Hotel Riffelhaus at Riffelberg in Switzerland with a stunning view of the Matterhorn

Photographers took detailed notes of the colour at the scene so the images could be transformed later. The technique was used on this photo showing boats   A view over the city of Lucerne, taken some time between 1889 and 1902

Photographers took detailed notes of the colour at the scene so the images could be transformed later. The technique was used on this photo showing boats   A view over the city of Lucerne, taken some time between 1889 and 1902

Another picture shows The 'Château de Chillon' on the banks of Lake Geneva with views of the Dents-du-Midi mountains in Switzerland

Another picture shows The ‘Château de Chillon’ on the banks of Lake Geneva with views of the Dents-du-Midi mountains in Switzerland

In another fascinating colour photo, port workers row out to meet a cruise ship arriving off the coast of Algiers in Algeria in 1896

In another fascinating colour photo, port workers row out to meet a cruise ship arriving off the coast of Algiers in Algeria in 1896

A picture taken in Russia's capital, Moscow more than a hundred years ago shows the river that runs through the city and the Kremlin in the background

A picture taken in Russia’s capital, Moscow more than a hundred years ago shows the river that runs through the city and the Kremlin in the background

Pictures from around the world were transformed to show tourist hotspots in colour. One of the images shows the Old Port area of Marseille in France

Pictures from around the world were transformed to show tourist hotspots in colour. One of the images shows the Old Port area of Marseille in France

The use of the photochrome technique brought new life to this image of a steam train emerging from a tunnel in the Swiss mountains in March 1901

The use of the photochrome technique brought new life to this image of a steam train emerging from a tunnel in the Swiss mountains in March 1901

This coastal scene, taken between 1889 and 1911, shows the Eddystone Lighthouse at Plymouth in Devon. The images are on display at the Swiss Camera Museum in the town of Vevey until 21 August

This coastal scene, taken between 1889 and 1911, shows the Eddystone Lighthouse at Plymouth in Devon. The images are on display at the Swiss Camera Museum in the town of Vevey until 21 August

A man and a child walk along a stream running through the Old Town in the city of Biskra, Algeria in another picture transformed by colour more than a hundred years ago

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