The visual puzzle, reproduced below, comes from this blog post:
The question posed was,
“What makes this photograph special?”
Первая в мире шахматная фотография = The world’s first chess photograph.
It’s funny that I had never seen or heard of such a photograph, only to discover it in a Soviet magazine from almost thirty years ago. Scanning the page reveals another photograph, suggesting the origin of the reference that the Soviets used:
Another view of the photograph is here:
The following information comes from website of the The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Chess Players
However, it is not entirely certain if the above is indeed the first photograph of chess or of chess players. There is another site, concentrating on photographic firsts:
This 1841 giclée by Nicolaas Henneman (who is actually one of the players) may be the first photograph of people playing chess, but it might not have been his last. This photograph of chess players from 1845 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is also attributed to Henneman, although has a decidedly more engaging posing, even breaking the fourth wall, perhaps another photographic first, at least in photographs of gaming.
Nicolaas Henneman contemplates his move in a game of chess, september 1841 (salt paper print from calotype negative), Talbot, William Henry Fox (1800-77) / Private Collection / The Stapleton Collection / The Bridgeman Art LibraryThis giclée print offers beautiful color accuracy on a high-quality paper (235 gsm) that is a great option for framing with its smooth, acid free surface. Giclée (French for “to spray”) is a printing process where millions of ink droplets are sprayed onto thepaper’s surface creating natural color transitions.
I found a relevant excerpt from the book, Photography: History and Theory (2013) by Jae Emerling.
When considering the history of photography one must be cognizant of the fact that one is addressing complex theoretical questions about representation: signs and objects, narratives and events, life and politics. In other words, to confront the history of photography is to face the double-bind of aesthetics and ethics. Let us begin with two photographs.
One forms a relation to the first decade of photographic practice. It shows William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the calotype (the first practicable negative-positive photographic means), and Antoine Claudet, a French photographer who became a prominent daguerreotype portraitist in England. The dim, poorly-lit small image by Nicolaas Henneman captures Fox Talbot, in melancholic pose.
Although I only had text available, and could not see the actual photograph being discussed, it must certainly be the very first photograph presented in this post. And it’s attributed to Henneman and not Claudet.
History is a difficult business, most assuredly. Consider that the Art Institute of Chicago in essence credits the work to Talbot:
where I assume that one recognizes the hat.
To close, I give the following additional links for <offramp>, where he can explore the beginning of photography, including the first photograph of a person (not playing chess):