23 Of The Oldest Color Photos Ever Taken

Gabriel H. Sanchez

Here's what the world looked like in color, over 100 years ago.

Posted on June 08, 2017, 21:38 GMT

In 1907, brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière made history by transforming the monochromatic world of photography into vibrant color with their new invention, the Autochrome Lumière.

In the years before this invention, color was usually added to a photo by hand-painting its surface with dyes and pigments. Instead, the Lumière brother's invention used layers of dyed potato starch and light-sensitive emulsion to create color transparencies, offering more accurate depictions of nature and generating new creative possibilities in the realms of art and journalism.

As the story goes with so many advances in photography, the Autochrome Lumière soon became obsolete following the 1930s invention of the lighter and more practical Kodachrome film, which met a similar fate in 2009 after the rise of one more advance — digital photography.

These autochromes show what the world looked like in color over 100 years ago.

Science & Society Picture Library / Getty Image

Autochrome by Etheldreda Janet Laing, 1908.

Royal Photographic Society / Getty Images

Autochrome by Friedrich Paneth, 1925.

Getty Images

Autochrome by an unknown artist, 1913.

Royal Photographic Society / Getty Images

Autochrome by Friedrich Paneth, 1913.

Royal Photographic Society / Getty Images

Autochrome by Mervyn O'Gorman, 1913.

Royal Photographic Society / Getty Images

Autochrome by John Cimon Warburg, 1915.

Royal Photographic Society / Getty Images

Autochrome by Friedrich Paneth, 1915.

Science & Society Picture Librar / Getty Images

Autochrome by Etheldreda Janet Laing, 1908.

Royal Photographic Society / Getty Images

Autochrome of Mark Twain by Alvin Langdon Coburn, 1908.

Science & Society Picture Library / Getty Images

Autochrome by Etheldreda Janet Laing, 1908.

Getty Images

Autochrome by Fernand Cuville of French soldiers operating machine guns during the Second Battle of the Aisne, 1917.

Galerie Bilderwelt / Getty Images

Autochrome by Jules Gervais-Courtellemont of a French military cemetery, 1916.

Getty Images

Autochrome by Paul Castelnau of a French military observation post, 1917.

Getty Images

Autochrome by an unknown artist of the Italian battleship Caio Duilio during the early 20th century.

Roger Viollet Collection / Getty Images

Autochome of a street in Jerusalem by an unknown artist during the early 20th century; from the Roger-Viollet collection.

Royal Photographic Society / Getty Images

Autochrome of a scene in Egypt by Friedrich Paneth, 1913.

Heritage Images / Getty Images

Autochrome by an unknown artist, 1911.

Adoc-photos / Getty Images

Autochrome of the French Alps by an unknown artist, circa 1920.

Royal Photographic Society / Getty Images

Autochrome by Mervyn O'Gorman, 1913.

BuzzFeed's resident photo geek.

Contact Gabriel H. Sanchez at gabriel.sanchez@buzzfeed.com.

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