Levi Hill was an American Baptist minister from the foothills of Westkill New York Catskill Mountains who claimed to have invented the 1st color photographic process around 1850 though many believed the color in his photographs were added by hand dying. He did receive some support from the scientific community to include Samuel F.B. Moorse.
In February 1951 he wrote a treatise on the process called "Heliochromy" which consisted of using plates he named after himself called "hillotypes". He stated: "I now have forty-five specimens, all of which present the several colors, true to a tint, and with a degree of brilliancy never seen in the richest Daguerreotype".
Though he was first met with skepticism researchers have shown that the Heliochromy process did have the ability to reproduce colors but in 2007 a chemical analysis was conducted by researches associated with the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History who found dyes had been used to enhance color but it accounted for only a portion of the colors in the photograph.
The years since his death in 1865 few historians praised Hill as the unacknowledged inventor of color photography, James Clerk Maxwell, a Scotsman, is generally credited with producing the first successful color photograph in 1861.
Hill tried and failed to patent his method and in 1853 a government document concluded that "existing patent laws would not afford to the inventor the security required" for his chemical process.
Hill turned his back on photography completely in 1855 after Emmeline, his wife and research partner, died at age 38.
His ideas were published in an 1856 volume titled "A Treatise on Heliochromy", but by then most of his peers had dismissed his work as fakery.
Hill died nine years later and obituaries referred to his Hillotypes as a failed experiment.
Today in the one block town of Westkill New York it is difficult to locate the whereabouts of Hill's complete 45 european prints in order to make an accurate determination..
Created by: Lorenzo Brieba
Record added: Mar 10, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 66740196