The Role of Imagery

                                                    on the development of 

                                                                      Popular Landscape Tourism

                                                                                                                                                                  by Jorge D. Goldfarb


Part II:  The Photochrome

       About the end of the 19th Century another sort of Imagery made its appearance. Contrary to the landscape poster reviewed in the previous page, it was not primarily intended as an advertising gimmick; nevertheless, it had quite an influence in popularizing landscapes and, as a consequence, promoting mass landscape tourism. The contrivance I’m talking of was  called the  Photochrome. 

     The vast popularity that Photochromes enjoyed for a few decades can be understood in the context of the History of photography as a hobby. In all likelyhood your grandchildren may not believe you if you tell them but, once upon a time (actually less than a 100 years ago) very few people had a photographic camera of their own. Cameras were then large contraptions that not only could not be put in pockets, but not even in a normal suitcase; they were owned only by professional photographers and by a few eccentrics. The rest of the people could not then take pictures but, thanks to the invention of the Photochrome, they could buy them. Moreover, since they were quite cheap, most people could afford them.

  As Walter Benjamin could have said, once photography reached the masses, the sheer force of Quantity made its mark by opening new prospects, among them, landscapes or “views” of alluring places that could  be placed on the house walls and admired as "the real thing" instead of just being vaguely imagined.


 Here are a few examples, produced bet. 1890-1900, taken from the outstanding collection of the U.S. Historical Archives ©: 

(follow This Link to see the collection) 


Legends of Images 

(from top to bottom) 

Achile Head, Mayo, Ireland 

View at Dean Forest, Devon, England 

Agnetedorf, Riesengebirge,Germany

Tintern Abbey, England 

 Abbey Bridge, Tavistock, England 

Adelboden, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland 


The Autochrome 

    It is not widely known that, roundabout those times, another sort of Landscape Imagery appeared in France. It was called the Autochrome. The process was invented by the Lumiere brothers in 1903. These were really colour photographs, produced by a process that involved sensitive plates with a special potato starch. The quality was amazing and far superior than that of the photochromes.  

 They didn't attain such a vast diffusion as the photochromes though because they tended to fade after a year or so. 

   For the interested reader,  there are two  excellent websites with comprehensive technical and historical background on the subject, one by Alain Scheibili: Autochromes Lumiere  and another "La photographie des couleurs: Autochromes Lumiere"


                                                                                                                                        At Lavandou 

Autochrome,1912Copyright:: Marc Durand 

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