Robert Cornelius The First Light Picture Ever Taken

ExplorePAHistory a0a7w1 a 3491 Robert Cornelius The First Light Picture Ever Taken


This is one of the earliest known photographs of a human. A self portrait taken in 1839, it shows a young Robert Cornelius (1809-1893) standing outside his family’s lamp-making shop in Philadelphia.

Cornelius was an American of Dutch descent whose knowledge of metallurgical chemistry was to help in perfecting the process of silver-plating, then employed in the production of daguerreotypes.

This photograph was made so many years ago, and yet Robert Cornelius looks as any young man you might happen to pass on the streets today. This is what struck me. He is so handsome and it is hard for me to believe this picture was taken so long ago. I’ve seen so many men try to look as handsome as this fellow, on screen, on stage and definitely on the streets of Los Angeles.  He is truly striking and sexy.

This picture above was taken 1839, the date Cornelius and  Paul Beck Goddard , a chemist from the University of Pennsylvania introduced their invention to the Society. Cornelius took this picture ,but because it was off-center he had Goddard pose for another for presentation to America’s leading learned Society.

rc431 1 Robert Cornelius The First Light Picture Ever Taken

Lucy Inglis, -‘Cornelius isn’t some styled dandy approving every brushstroke of a portrait or a miniature: he’s just a bloke standing in the street trying out his new camera.’