Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Dated to 1825, a year earlier than the process had previously been thought to have been developed, this heliogravure of a print of a horse and boy was made by Joseph Niépce, whose earliest surviving images until now have been dated to 1826-7.

The horse and boy image is being sold as part of the photographic treasures from the collection of Marie Thérèse and André Jammes in a two-day sale in Paris on March 21 and 22.

The first part of the collection, which produced the highest ever price for a photograph at auction, was held in London in October 1999.

According to Sotheby’s, some years ago André Jammes had the opportunity to acquire a seemingly unassuming reproduction of a 17th century Dutch print together with an extensive series of autograph manuscript letters by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and his son Isidore. Niépce is recognised for his discovery of the first viable photographic process. The Niépce correspondence that accompanied the print gave a full, detailed account, step-by-step, of the processes by which Niépce eventually achieved his momentous discovery.

The print, discussed and enclosed in a letter from Isidore to their correspondent, is the only surviving testament to Niépce’s triumph. He had at last, in the summer of 1825, achieved his objective of using the power of light alone to make a plate from which an image could be printed.