The precursors: Jean Sénebier

Jean Sénebier, theologian and physics enthusiast, living in Geneva in the XVIIIth century, undertook a lot of research into very different areas; amongst other things, he was interested in the sensitivity of natural substances to light.

In 1782, he wrote an important paper on spectral sensitivity – in other words about the colours – of silver chloride. He noticed then that it was blue light, which blackened this silver salt most quickly.


Portrait of Jean Sénebier by Jens Juel, oil on canvas, undated (Bibliothèque publique et universitaire, Genève).