Pets have been a part of human history for thousands of years, and they continue to bring joy and companionship into our lives today. In this blog post, we'll explore the history of pets, their role in human society, and the first ever known pet photograph.
The World's Oldest Photos of Animals
For as long as humans have existed, we have shared our lives with animals. The earliest known evidence of animal domestication dates back to approximately 15,000 years ago when humans domesticated dogs. Since then, animals have played an important role in our lives, and we have been documenting our relationships with them through various forms of art and media.
In 1839, the camera was invented, and soon after, we began capturing photographs of our beloved pets and other animals. These early photographs required a lengthy exposure time, making it difficult to capture images of animals that don't stay still for long periods. Despite this challenge, photographers managed to produce some of the world's oldest photos of animals.
Here are some of the oldest known photographs of living animals:
Poodle with Bow, on Table
This daguerreotype photograph is considered the first-ever photograph of a dog. It features an unknown white poodle sitting on a table with a bow on its head. Although the identity of the photographer and the dog's owner is unknown, the photograph has since been sold at Sotheby's for $8,125.
Thirsty Kitty (1840-1860)
This daguerreotype photograph is the earliest known photo of a cat. The photo shows a thirsty-looking kitty staring at the camera. The exact date and the photographer's identity are unknown, but the photo is now part of Harvard University's digital collection.
Cow at a Market in Rome (1842)
This photograph is credited as being the oldest known photograph of any living animal. It was taken by Frenchman Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey in a cattle market in Rome. Girault de Prangey was known for taking thousands of photos during a three-year trek throughout the Eastern Mediterranean.
Study of a White Foal (1845)
This daguerreotype photograph by Jean-Gabriel Eynard features a beautiful white foal. Eynard was a wealthy banker and amateur photographer who took photographs of his family, servants, and surroundings in Geneva, Switzerland.
Reclining Goat (1850s)
This photograph by Giacomo Caneva features a reclining goat in Rome. Caneva was a 19th-century Italian painter-turned-photographer who captured the essence of his subjects with his lens.
Nile Crocodile (1852)
This photograph of a deceased crocodile aboard a vessel on the Nile in Egypt was taken by explorer-photographer Ernest Benecke. The photo was added to the Louvre Abu Dhabi's collection in 2019.
Wild Dayrell (1852)
This photograph is of the champion British thoroughbred racehorse, Wild Dayrell. The photograph was taken in 1852, and the horse was immortalized in an 1855 painting by Samuel Henry Alken titled Wild Dayrell, Winner of the Epson Derby.
London Zoo’s first hippopotamus “smiles”
In 1852, Juan, Count of Montizón captured a photo of Obaysch, the first hippopotamus at the London Zoo, who became an instant star. It's believed that the crowd-pleasing hippo even generated merchandise and a popular song, The Hippopotamus Polka.
Boy with Parrot (1856)
This hand-colored stereoscopic daguerreotype photograph features a young boy holding a parrot. It was made in 1856 by Antoine Claudet, England's first professional daguerreotypist.
These photographs serve as a testament to our love and fascination with animals. They also highlight the skill and creativity of early photographers, who managed to capture the essence and beauty of animals despite the technical limitations of early photography.
As a pet photographer, I am inspired by these early photographs and strive to capture the unique personalities and spirit of animals in my studio and outdoor photo sessions.
If you're interested in booking a photo session for your furry friend, check out my pet photography portfolio at https://www.hibbardphotography.co.uk/Pets/.