Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Oldest Darkoom

From a recent list-serv posting about the newly-discovered "oldest darkroom" in the world:
"The darkroom was owned by Joseph Fortuné Petiot-Groffier who died in 1855. The lab was left untouched by children, grand-children,... after his death until today when a great-great... decided to open the doors to the director of la Maison Nicéphore Niepce in Chalon-sur-Saone in France. The lab was full of ancient chemicals (many still in sealed containers), photo equipment, and over 400 books dating prior to 1830 covering the full knowledge on photography as of that time. It will be recreated at the Maison Nicéphore Niepce." - (translated?) by Guy Glorieux
From my dad's email reply:
"Pierre-Yves Mahe, is the founder of SPEOS photographic school in Paris, and he rents the part of the house where Niépce had his laboratory-workshop in Saint-Loup de Varennes, on the Gras estate. Pierre-Yves was the first photographer to occupy the place since the inventor’s death...The historical residence had remained unexplored until then, just gazed at from outside by some curious people. Pierre-Yves, along with Dr. Zakia and I, wrote the book, The Stop System which was published in French and in English in 1999. The Stop System is still being taught at Speos.

Pierre-Yves visits Rochester from time to time and was here recently when he showed me numerous pictures of the Petiot-Groffier darkroom. It was amazing to hear his recounting of the story of being the first person to enter this historic darkroom in approximately 150 years! The lab was frozen in time as if it were a time capsule, which, undoubtedly, it was. Pierre-Yves showed many pictures of the investigation of the lab with full-time chemists in masks checking over the curious, centuries-old bottles to make sure that they were not dangerous (some were!) and arranging and cataloging them. Eventually, the darkroom will become part of the Niépce house for all to see! What a great find to discover the darkroom, chemicals, cameras, books, and processing apparatus that were exactly contemporaneous with Niépce, many of which were used in his investigations!"
Here are some more articles on this discovery: one in French and one in English.

1 comment:

pitchertaker said...

How totally cool, not to mention amazing. Wish you Dad was able to share an image or two. Your mention of Dr. Zakia ramg a bell --long ago I learned much from a book that he, along with White and Lorenz wrote: "The New Zone System"