A new visual puzzle (2015/02/15) – solution

The visual puzzle, reproduced below, comes from this blog post:


The question posed was,

“What makes this photograph special?”

First chess photograph - 64I found the photograph in the Soviet chess magazine, 64 – No 17 (Sept 1987) p15, while researching <Subotica izt (1987)>. The photograph looked interesting, and had the caption

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:

First photograph - Guinness RecordsWith caption «Обложна “Книги рекордов Гиннеса» = “Widespread Guinness World Records”.


Another view of the photograph is here:

First chess photographhttp://metmuseum.org/exhibitions/view?exhibitionId={3225b21d-cef5-4ab9-89f4-e1094b1d24e4}&oid=260988

The following information comes from website of the The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Chess Players

Artist: Likely by Antoine-François-Jean Claudet (French, active Great Britain, 1797–1867)
Former Attribution: William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800–1877 Lacock)
Date: ca. 1845
Medium: Salted paper print from paper negative
Dimensions: 19.5 x 14.4 cm. (7 11/16 x 5 11/16 in.)
Classification: Photographs
Credit Line: The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1973
Accession Number: 1973.616
Not on view

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:

where I discovered this photograph:
First Photograph Chess - Henneman
I quote from the site:
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.
The reference here to the Met points to the previous photograph (our 64 original). But it maybe misattributes the composer as Henneman, whereas the Met attributes it to the Frenchman Claudet (who was active in England).  Indeed, the photograph of Henneman, just above, is not by Henneman himself, but rather by William Henry Fox Talbot.
This is readily apparent by visiting the allposter reference, the photograph’s source, where the description is as follows:
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 Library
This 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 the
paper’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):




One thought on “A new visual puzzle (2015/02/15) – solution

  1. Pingback: A new visual puzzle | Zan Chess

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