Auguste and Louis Lumière

Last updated

Auguste and Louis Lumière
Fratelli Lumiere.jpg
The inventors of the moving picture
  • Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas Lumière
  • Louis Jean Lumière

  • Auguste: (1862-10-19)19 October 1862
  • Louis: (1864-10-05)5 October 1864

  • Auguste: 10 April 1954(1954-04-10) (aged 91)
  • Louis: 6 June 1948(1948-06-06) (aged 83)

Resting place New Guillotière Cemetery (location A6)
Alma mater La Martiniere Lyon
  • Charles-Antoine Lumière (1840–1911)
  • Jeanne Joséphine Costille Lumière (1841–1915)
Awards Elliott Cresson Medal (1909)

The Lumière brothers ( UK: /ˈlmiɛər/ , US: /ˌlmiˈɛər/ ; French:  [lymjɛːʁ] ), Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas ( [oɡyst maʁi lwi nikɔla] ; 19 October 1862 10 April 1954) and Louis Jean ( [lwi ʒɑ̃] ; 5 October 1864 7 June 1948), [1] [2] were among the first filmmakers in history. They patented an improved cinematograph, which in contrast to Thomas Edison's "peepshow" kinetoscope allowed simultaneous viewing by multiple parties.

British English is the standard dialect of English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken, so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language. According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English, British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".

American English Set of dialects of the English language spoken in the United States

American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. It is considered one of the most influential dialects of English globally, including on other varieties of English.

Film director Person who controls the artistic and dramatic aspects of a film production

A film director is a person who directs the making of a film. A film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the screenplay while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfilment of that vision. The director has a key role in choosing the cast members, production design, and the creative aspects of filmmaking. Under European Union law, the director is viewed as the author of the film.



The Lumière brothers were born in Besançon, France, to Charles-Antoine Lumière (1840–1913) [3] and Jeanne Joséphine Costille Lumière, who were married in 1861 and moved to Besançon, setting up a small photographic portrait studio where Auguste and Louis were born. They moved to Lyon in 1870, where son Edouard and three daughters were born. Auguste and Louis both attended La Martiniere, the largest technical school in Lyon. [4] Their father Charles-Antoine set up a small factory producing photographic plates, but even with Louis and a young sister working from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. it teetered on the verge of bankruptcy, and by 1882 it looked as if they would fail, but when Auguste returned from military service the boys designed the machines necessary to automate their father's plate production and devised a very successful new photo plate, 'etiquettes bleue', and by 1884 the factory employed a dozen workers.

Besançon Prefecture and commune in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France

Besançon is the capital of the department of Doubs in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The city is located in Eastern France, close to the Jura Mountains and the border with Switzerland.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Lyon Prefecture and commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Lyon is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located in the country's east-central part at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône, about 470 km (292 mi) south from Paris, 320 km (199 mi) north from Marseille and 56 km (35 mi) northeast from Saint-Étienne. Inhabitants of the city are called Lyonnais.

Cinematographe Lumiere at the Institut Lumiere, France Institut Lumiere - CINEMATOGRAPHE Camera.jpg
Cinématographe Lumière at the Institut Lumière, France

When their father retired in 1892 the brothers began to create moving pictures. They patented several significant processes leading up to their film camera, most notably film perforations (originally implemented by Emile Reynaud) as a means of advancing the film through the camera and projector. The original cinématographe had been patented by Léon Guillaume Bouly on 12 February 1892. [5] The brothers patented their own version on 13 February 1895. [6] The first footage ever to be recorded using it was recorded on 19 March 1895. This first film shows workers leaving the Lumière factory.

Film perforations

Film perforations, also known as perfs and sprocket holes, are the holes placed in the film stock during manufacturing and used for transporting and steadying the film. Films may have different types of perforations depending on film gauge, film format, and intended usage. Perforations are also used as a standard measuring reference within certain camera systems to refer to the size of the frame.

The Lumière brothers saw film as a novelty and had withdrawn from the film business in 1905. They went on to develop the first practical photographic colour process, the Lumière Autochrome.

Tomb of the Lumiere brothers in the New Guillotiere Cemetery in Lyon Tombe des freres Lumiere.jpg
Tomb of the Lumière brothers in the New Guillotière Cemetery in Lyon

Louis died on 6 June 1948 and Auguste on 10 April 1954. They are buried in a family tomb in the New Guillotière Cemetery in Lyon.

Guillotière Cemetery cemetery located in Rhône, in France

Guillotière Cemetery is the name of two adjacent but associated cemeteries in Lyon, France. The two cemeteries are distinguished according to when they were built: the new cemetery was built in 1854 and the old cemetery in 1822. They are situated in the La Guillotière neighborhood of the city, in the 7th and 8th arrondissements, just south of Parc Sergent Blandan. They were built to address the shortage of burial spaces in the city. The old cemetery is just north of the new cemetery, and the two are separated by Avenue Berthelot and the railroad tracks connecting Perrache and Part-Dieu railway stations. The new cemetery is the largest in Lyon at 18 hectares.

First film screenings

The Lumières held their first private screening of projected motion pictures in 1895. This first screening on 22 March 1895 took place in Paris, at the "Society for the Development of the National Industry", in front of an audience of 200 people – among which Léon Gaumont, then director of the company the Comptoir géneral de la photographie. The main focus of this conference by Louis Lumière were the recent developments in the photograph industry, mainly the research on polychromy (colour photography). It was much to Lumière's surprise that the moving black-and-white images retained more attention than the coloured stills photographs. [7] The American Woodville Latham had screened works of film 2 months later on 20 May 1895. [8] The first public screening of films at which admission was charged was a program by the Skladanowsky brothers that was held on 1 November 1895, in Berlin. [9]

Léon Gaumont French businessman

Léon Gaumont was a French inventor, engineer, and industrialist who was a pioneer of the motion picture industry.

Major Woodville Latham (1837–1911) was an ordnance officer of the Confederacy during the American Civil War and professor of chemistry at West Virginia University. He was significant in the development of early film technology.

The Lumières gave their first paid public screening on 28 December 1895, at Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris. [10] This history-making presentation featured 10 short films, including their first film, Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory). [11]

Salon Indien du Grand Café café in Paris, France, place of the first commercial movie projection

Le Salon Indien du Grand Café was a room in the basement of the Grand Café, on the Boulevard des Capucines near the Place de l'Opéra in the center of Paris. It is notable for being the place that hosted the very first public moviescreening, on December 28, 1895, consisting in ten short clips presented by the Lumière brothers. These short films clips, were:

  1. La Sortie de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon, 46 seconds
  2. Le Jardinier , 49 seconds
  3. Le Débarquement du Congrès de Photographie à Lyon, 48 seconds
  4. La Voltige, 46 seconds
  5. La Pêche aux poissons rouges, 42 seconds
  6. Les Forgerons ("Blacksmiths"), 49 seconds
  7. Repas de bébé, 41 seconds
  8. Le Saut à la couverture, 41 seconds
  9. La Places des Cordeliers à Lyon, 44 seconds
  10. La Mer , 38 seconds
<i>Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory</i> 1895 film by Auguste and Louis Lumière

Workers Leaving The Lumière Factory in Lyon, also known as Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory and Exiting the Factory, is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Louis Lumière. It is often referred to as the first real motion picture ever made, although Louis Le Prince's 1888 Roundhay Garden Scene pre-dated it by seven years.

Lumieres La Sortie de l'Usine Lumiere a Lyon 1895 Lumieres La Sortie de l'Usine Lumiere a Lyon 1895.png
Lumières La Sortie de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon 1895

Each film is 17 meters long, which, when hand cranked through a projector, runs approximately 50 seconds.

L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat
The world's first film poster, for 1895's L'Arroseur arrose Cinematographe Lumiere.jpg
The world's first film poster, for 1895's L'Arroseur arrosé

It is believed their first film was recorded that same year (1895) with Léon Bouly's cinématographe device, which was patented the previous year. The date of the recording of their first film is in dispute. In an interview with Georges Sadoul given in 1948, Louis Lumière tells that he shot the film in August 1894. This is questioned by historians (Sadoul, Pinel, Chardère) who consider that a functional Lumière camera didn't exist before the end of 1894, and that their first film was recorded 19 March 1895, and then publicly projected 22 March at the Société d'encouragement pour l'industrie nationale in Paris. The cinématographe — a three-in-one device that could record, develop, and project motion pictures — was further developed by the Lumières. [12]

The public debut at the Grand Café came a few months later and consisted of the following 10 short films (in order of presentation): [13]

  1. La Sortie de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon (literally, "the exit from the Lumière factory in Lyon", or, under its more common English title, Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory), 46 seconds
  2. Le Jardinier (l'Arroseur Arrosé) ("The Gardener", or "The Sprinkler Sprinkled"), 49 seconds
  3. Le Débarquement du Congrès de Photographie à Lyon ("the disembarkment of the Congress of Photographers in Lyon"), 48 seconds
  4. La Voltige ("Horse Trick Riders"), 46 seconds
  5. La Pêche aux poissons rouges ("fishing for goldfish"), 42 seconds
  6. Les Forgerons ("Blacksmiths"), 49 seconds
  7. Repas de bébé ("Baby's Breakfast" (lit. "baby's meal")), 41 seconds
  8. Le Saut à la couverture ("Jumping Onto the Blanket"), 41 seconds
  9. La Places des Cordeliers à Lyon ("Cordeliers Square in Lyon"—a street scene), 44 seconds
  10. La Mer (Baignade en mer) ("the sea [bathing in the sea]"), 38 seconds

The Lumières went on tour with the cinématographe in 1896, visiting Brussels (the first place a film was played outside Paris on the Galleries Saint-Hubert on 1 March 1896), Bombay, London, Montreal, New York City and Buenos Aires.

In 1896, only a few months after the initial screenings in Europe, films by the Lumiere Brothers were shown in Egypt, first in the Tousson stock exchange in Alexandria on 5 November 1896 and then in the Hamam Schneider (Schneider Bath) in Cairo. [14] [15]

The moving images had an immediate and significant influence on popular culture with L'Arrivée d'un Train en Gare de la Ciotat (literally, "the arrival of a train at La Ciotat", but more commonly known as Arrival of a Train at a Station) and Carmaux, défournage du coke (Drawing out the coke). Their actuality films, or actualités, are often cited as the first, primitive documentaries. They also made the first steps towards comedy film with the slapstick of L'Arroseur Arrosé .

Early colour photography

Autochrome colour picture by Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud of North-African soldiers, Oise, France, 1917. LumiereAlgerijnen.jpg
Autochrome colour picture by Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud of North-African soldiers, Oise, France, 1917.

The brothers stated that "the cinema is an invention without any future" and declined to sell their camera to other filmmakers such as Georges Méliès. This made many film makers upset. Consequently, their role in the history of film was exceedingly brief. In parallel with their cinema work they experimented with colour photography. They worked on a number of colour photographic processes in the 1890s including the Lippmann process (interference heliochromy) and their own 'bichromated glue' process, [16] a subtractive colour process, examples of which were exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900. This last process was commercialised by the Lumieres but commercial success had to wait for their next colour process. In 1903 they patented a colour photographic process, the Autochrome Lumière , which was launched on the market in 1907. [17] Throughout much of the 20th century, the Lumière company was a major producer of photographic products in Europe, but the brand name, Lumière, disappeared from the marketplace following merger with Ilford. [18] They also invented the colour plate, which really got photography on the road.

Other early cinematographers

The Lumière Brothers were not the only ones to claim the title of the first cinematographers. The scientific chronophotography devices developed by Eadweard Muybridge, Étienne-Jules Marey and Ottomar Anschütz in the 1880s were able to produce moving photographs, and William Friese-Greene's "machine camera", patented in 1889, did so on a strip of film. [19] Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope (developed by William Kennedy Dickson), premiered publicly in 1894. [20]

Since 1892, the projected drawings of Émile Reynaud's Théâtre Optique were attracting Paris crowds to the Musée Grévin. Louis Le Prince and Claude Mechant had been shooting moving picture sequences on paper film as soon as 1888, but had never performed a public demonstration. Polish inventor, Kazimierz Prószyński had built his camera and projecting device, called Pleograph, in 1894. Max and Emil Skladanowsky, inventors of the Bioscop, had offered projected moving images to a paying public one month earlier (1 November 1895, in Berlin). Nevertheless, film historians consider the Grand Café screening to be the true birth of the cinema as a commercial medium, because the Skladanowsky brothers' screening used an extremely impractical dual system motion picture projector that was immediately supplanted by the Lumiere cinematographe. [21]

Although the Lumière brothers were not the first inventors to develop techniques to create motion pictures, they are often credited as among the first inventors of the technology for cinema as a mass medium, and are among the first who understood how to use it.

See also

Their house in Lyon is now the Institut Lumiere museum. Lumiere House Lyon.jpg
Their house in Lyon is now the Institut Lumière museum.

Related Research Articles

The following is an overview of the events of 1895 in film, including a list of films released and notable births.

Louis Le Prince Cinema pioneer

Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince was a French artist and the inventor of an early motion picture camera, possibly being the first person to shoot a moving picture sequence using a single lens camera and a strip of (paper) film. Although some have credited him as the "Father of Cinematography", his work did not influence the commercial development of cinema—owing at least in part to the great secrecy surrounding it.

Charles-Émile Reynaud French inventor of motion picture technology

Charles-Émile Reynaud was a French inventor, responsible for the praxinoscope and the first projected animated films. His Pantomimes Lumineuses premiered on 28 October 1892 in Paris. His Théâtre Optique film system, patented in 1888, is also notable as the first known instance of film perforations being used. The performances predated Auguste and Louis Lumière's first paid public screening of the cinematographe on 26 December 1895, often seen as the birth of cinema.

Cinematograph motion picture film camera which also serves as a projector and printer

A cinematograph is a motion picture film camera, which also serves as a film projector and printer. It was invented in the 1890s in Lyon by Auguste and Louis Lumière.

<i>LArrivée dun train en gare de La Ciotat</i> 1895 film by Auguste and Louis Lumière

L'arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Auguste and Louis Lumière. Contrary to myth, it was not shown at the Lumières' first public film screening on 28 December 1895 in Paris, France: the programme of ten films shown that day makes no mention of it. Its first public showing took place in January 1896.

Max Skladanowsky German inventor and early filmmaker

Max Skladanowsky was a German inventor and early filmmaker. Along with his brother Emil, he invented the Bioscop, an early movie projector the Skladanowsky brothers used to display the first moving picture show to a paying audience on 1 November 1895, shortly before the public debut of the Lumière Brothers' Cinématographe in Paris on 28 December 1895.

The decade of the 1890s in film involved some significant events.

<i>LArroseur Arrosé</i> 1895 film by Louis Lumière

L'Arroseur Arrosé is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent comedy film directed and produced by Louis Lumière and starring François Clerc and Benoît Duval. It was first screened on June 10, 1895.

<i>Les Forgerons</i> 1895 film by Louis Lumière

Les Forgerons is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Louis Lumière. Given its age, this short film is available to freely download from the Internet.

La Mer is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Louis Lumière. Given its age, this short film is available to freely download from the Internet.

<i>Place des Cordeliers à Lyon</i> 1895 film directed by Louis Lumière

Place des Cordeliers à Lyon is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Louis Lumière.

<i>La Pêche aux poissons rouges</i> 1895 film by Louis Lumière

Pêche aux poissons rouges is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Louis Lumière. It was filmed in Lyon, Rhône, Rhône-Alpes, France. Given its age, this short film is available to freely download from the Internet.

<i>Repas de bébé</i> 1895 film directed by Louis Lumière

Le Repas de Bébé is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Louis Lumière and starring Andrée Lumière.

<i>Le Saut à la couverture</i> 1895 film by Louis Lumière

Le Saut à la couverture is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Louis Lumière.

<i>La Voltige</i> 1895 film by Louis Lumière

La Voltige is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Louis Lumière. It was filmed in Lyon, Rhône, Rhône-Alpes, France. Given its age, this short film is available to freely download from the Internet.

History of film technology

The history of film technology traces the development of film technology from the initial development of "moving pictures" at the end of 19th century to the present time. Motion pictures were initially exhibited as a fairground novelty and developed into one of the most important tools of communication and entertainment in the 20th century. Major developments in motion picture technology have included the adoption of synchronized motion picture sound, color motion picture film, and the adoption of digital film technologies to replace physical film stock at both ends of the production chain by digital image sensors and projectors.

Marius Sestier

Marius Ely Joseph Sestier was a French cinematographer. Sestier was best known for his work in Australia, where he shot some of the country's first films.



  1. "Louis Lumière, 83, A Screen Pioneer. Credited in France With The Invention of Motion Picture". The New York Times. 7 June 1948. Retrieved 29 April 2008.
  2. "Died". Time . 14 June 1948. Retrieved 29 April 2008. Louis Lumière, 83, wealthy motion-picture and colour-photography pioneer, whom (with his brother Auguste) Europeans generally credit with inventing the cinema; of a heart ailment; in Bandol, France.
  3. "Who's Who of Victorian Cinema". Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  4. Gina De Angelis (2003). Motion Pictures. The Oliver Press. ISBN   978-1-881508-78-6.
  5. "Brevet FR 219.350". Cinematographes. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  6. "Brevet FR 245.032". Cinematographes. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  7. Chardère 1985, p. 71.
  8. Burns, Paul. "1895 Major Woodville Latham (1838–1911)"., October 1999. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  9. "Who's Who of Victorian Cinema". Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  10. 28 December 1895.
  11. "La première séance publique payante", Institut Lumière Archived 12 September 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  12. Chardère 1987, p. 70.
  13. "Bienvenue sur Adobe GoLive 4"., 12 September 2005. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  14. Leaman, Oliver (16 December 2003). Companion Encyclopedia of Middle Eastern and North African Film. Routledge. ISBN   9781134662524.
  15. "Alexandria, Why? (The Beginnings of the Cinema Industry in Alexandria)". Bibliotheca Alexandrina's AlexCinema.
  16. "Lumiere Trichrome". Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  17. Lavédrine and Gandolfo 2013, p. 70.
  18. "City of Lyon Document" Archived 13 February 2013 at . Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  19. "William Friese-Greene". Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  20. "Chronology of Film Shows pre-1896". Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  21. Cook 2004, p. 34.


  • Chardère, B. Les images des Lumière (in French). Paris: Gallimard, 1995. ISBN   2-07-011462-7.
  • Chardère, B., G. Borgé, G. and M. Borge. Les Lumière (in French). Paris: Bibliothèque des Arts, 1985. ISBN   2-85047-068-6.
  • Cook, David. A History of Narrative Film (4th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton, 2004. ISBN   0-393-97868-0.
  • Lavédrine, Bertrand and Jean-Paul Gandolfo. The Lumière Autochrome: History, Technology, and Preservation. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2013. ISBN   978-1-60606-125-1.
  • Mast, Gerald and Bruce F. Kawin. A Short History of the Movies (9th ed.). New York: Pearson Longman, 2006. ISBN   0-321-26232-8.
  • Rittaud-Hutinet, Jacques. Le cinéma des origines (in French). Seyssel, France: Champ Vallon, 1985. ISBN   2-903528-43-8.