1902 Encyclopedia > Joseph Nicéphore Niepce

Joseph Nicéphore Niepce
French inventor

JOSEPH NICEPHORE NIEPCE (1765-1833), one of the inventors of photography, was born at Chalon-sur-Saône on March 7, 1765. His father, a "conseiller du roi," was in good circumstances, and young Niepce, who was of a meditative and poetical temperament, showed no eagerness to choose a profession. In 1792, however, he entered the army as a sub-lieutenant, and in the following year he saw active service in Italy. Ill-health and failing eyesight compelled him to resign his commission before he had risen above the rank of lieutenant; but in 1795 he was nominated " administrateur " of the district of Nice, and he held the post until 1801. Returning in that year to his birthplace, he gave himself along with his brother to mechanical and chemical researches; and in 1811 he directed his attention to the rising art of lithography. In 1813 the idea of obtaining sun pictures first suggested itself to him in this connexion ; the history of the subsequent development of the conception will be found under DAGUERRE (vol. vi. p. 761) and PHOTOGRAPHY. Niepce died at Gras, his property near Châlon, on July 3, 1833. A nephew, Claude Félix Abel Niepce de Saint-Victor (1805-1870), served with destinction in the army, and also made important contributions towards the advancement of the art of photography (actinescence) ; he published Recherches pihotographiques (Paris, 1855) and Traité pratique de gravure héliographique (Paris, 1866).

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