Victorian Photography: When colour seeps into the past

I’ve recently been thinking about when colour seeps into the past… These thoughts were spurred on by a talk from Chris Wild at the Culture 24 Let’s Get Real conference this September. Chris founded a blog called Retronaut, which shares incredible images of the past that can:

take your map of time and tear tiny holes in it.

Chris started his talk by sharing that he first discovered he could travel in time as a child, whilst in front of the wondrous invention that is the television. Sat in front of a glowing square box is where Chris stumbled across Bagpuss, the children’s television show which shifts from sepia to colour when Bagpuss wakes up. Chris credited this programme as a key inspiration for his current endeavours with Retronaut.

Stereocard depicting ‘Patent Pulpit: Seven minutes to one!’ by Michael Burr, 1862. From the Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland.
Stereocard depicting ‘Patent Pulpit: Seven minutes to one!’ by Michael Burr, 1862. From the Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland.

As I returned from the conference I couldn’t shake these thoughts of a colourful past from my head. I decided to delve into the Victorian Sensation photography collections that we have online and explore these colour Victorian images a little more myself. Of course, there was no form of commercial colour photography available at that time, and instead various forms of painting, colouring and tinting were applied. Read the full blog here!