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Print from Autochrome
MFA# 2001.335


A type of plate formerly used for color photography. Autochrome was the first successful process for color photos. It was developed in 1904 by Auguste and Louis Lumière of Lyon. They manufactured the plates from 1907 to 1933 at which point the plates were replaced by other color film products such as Lumicolor, Alticolor, and Filmcolor (Nadeau 1997). Autochrome plates contained a Silver bromide gelatin photographic emulsion applied over a multicolored screen of tiny Starch grains dyed red, green, and blue. Following World War I, the potato starch matrix was replaced by Gum arabic which gave a more uniform, less grainy appearance.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Autochrome process; Autochrome print; Lumicolor; Alticolor; Filmcolor

Resources and Citations

  • Preservation 101 glossary of terms at
  • Thomas B. Brill, Light Its Interaction with Art and Antiquities, Plenum Press, New York City, 1980 Comment: gum arabic
  • The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996 Comment: "Photography" gives names and dates (1907-1935)
  • Luis Nadeau, Encyclopedia of Printing, Photographic, and Photomechanical Processes, Atelier, New Brunswick, 1997 Comment: manufactured between 1907 and 1933
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997

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