The oldest self-portrait
The oldest portrait in the world is a self-portrait. For a selfie! And selfies are the most frequently taken subject in the world today. Thus, one can definitely claim that already in 1839 this trend found its origin.
The first self-portrait, as I said long before selfies became fashionable, shows the American Robert Cornelius. Outside the family store on Chestnut Street in Center City, Philadelphia he set up a camera and sat in front of the lens for probably a little over 10 minutes. Until he stood up and covered her again.
He was sure at the time that he had taken the first photograph ever with this photo. On the back of his self-portrait he had handwritten:
“The first light picture ever taken. 1839”.
Today we know that he was off by 13 years with this assumption. As early as 1826, the Frenchman Nicéphore Niépce had captured the view from his study in Le Gras using a camera obscura. But Robert Cornelius has held on to his misconception by name for eternity. And, his self-portrait is widely considered today to be the first ever photographic portrait.
The first commercial portrait photo
A year later, in May 1940, Robert Cornelius opened the first photo studio in Philadelphia and the second worldwide. His photo studio became famous and popular and numerous portraits of wealthy, famous people came from here. The portrait of John Mc Allister Jr. is now considered the first commercial studio portrait recorded by Robert Cornelius.
My oldest self portrait
I once rummaged through my archives myself and looked for my oldest, deliberately taken self-portrait. Apparently, during the youth/student exchange between Bavaria and New South Wales in 1985, I took this “selfie” then with tripod, self-timer and analog SLR camera on Agfachrome slide film at my host brother Scott’s house.