Jacqueline Bonnet had never been in the house where her ancestor, Nicéphore Niépce, succeeded for the first time in history in fixing an image. Last week, she went there with her son in a sort of pilgrimage to Saint-Loup-de-Varennes..

Jean-Louis Bruley présente le plan du pyréolophore à Jacqueline Bonnet.

Jean-Louis Bruley shows the pyréolophore’s plan to Jacqueline Bonnet.

I knew this house for having passed by many many times. People would tell me: that’s the place! But I had never gone inside”, Jacqueline Bonnet explained. So it is with a profound emotion that the great-great-great-grand-daughter of Nicéphore Niépce discovered the place where her ancestor conducted his researches and invented photography.

It’s magic to be here; one imagines Nicéphore Niépce at work. Everything is there. You’ve done an outstanding job”, she told the managers of the House of Niépce in Saint-Loup who have been fighting to see this place and Nicéphore Niépce’s work (as well as his brother’s, Claude) recognised.

It is actually in this respect that the visit from the inventor’s direct descendants takes its full significance. Just a few weeks before the Heritage Days 2008 (September 20th and 21st), during which the Maison Niépce will celebrate the bicentenary of the internal combustion engine that was invented by the Niépce brothers, this visit reminds one of the action undertook by Jacqueline Bonnet’s grandmother, Marie-Louise Laforge, in 1924.

Marie-Louise Laforge, arrière-petite-fille de Nicéphore Niépce (coll. privée)

Marie-Louise Laforge, Nicéphore Niépce’s great-great-daughter (private coll. )

Marie-Louise Laforge’s maiden name was Niépce. When she married Casimir Laforge, the name Niépce disappeared among the descendants of the inventor. “So all the people who are named Niépce and who pretend to be descendants of the photography’s inventor are impostors”, Madame Bonnet commented, smiling.

In 1924, Marie-Louise Laforge had paid homage to Clerget’s work and had thanked him for his “precious judgement and the interest he showed for her renowned relatives”. Eighty-four years later, Jacqueline Bonnet could also pay homage to the work realized by Jean-Louis Bruley, in her turn praising his “precious judgement”. He was the one leading the tour inside the House of Niépce. A glimpse into history two hundreds years after the Niépce brothers’ engine was invented…

In 1924, Marie-Louise Laforge had paid homage to Clerget’s work and had thanked him for his “precious judgement and the interest he showed for her renowned relatives”. Eighty-four years later, Jacqueline Bonnet could also pay homage to the work realized by Jean-Louis Bruley, in her turn praising his “precious judgement”. He was the one leading the tour inside the House of Niépce. A glimpse into history two hundreds years after the Niépce brothers’ engine was invented…

C. Saulnier