Claude Niépce

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Chromolithograph depicting Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre and Claude Félix Abel Niépce.

Claude Félix Abel Niépce (1763 – 1828) was a French inventor and the older brother of the more celebrated Nicéphore Niépce. Claude traveled to England to try to find a sponsor for their internal combustion engine and died there. His brother's later successful development of photography has eclipsed the part played by Claude.[1]


The two brothers worked together on a number of projects, including an innovative hydraulic engine – the Pyréolophore, the world's first internal combustion engine – as well as pioneering work in photography. Claude and Nicéphore were granted a patent for their internal combustion engine by the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1807. Life in post-revolutionary France was very difficult and by 1817 there was insufficient progress to attract subsidy and investment, so the ten-year patent expired. Worried about losing control of the engine, Claude traveled first to Paris and then to England in an attempt to further the project. He received the patent consent of King George III on 23 December 1817.[2] This was not the key to success. Over the next ten years, Claude remained in London, settled in Kew and descended into delirium, whereby he squandered much of the family fortune chasing inappropriate business opportunities for the Pyréolophore.[3][4]


  1. ^ Claude Niépce at Cultural Cartography.
  2. ^ "Licence issued by George III of England on 23 December 1817" (in French). Niepce House Museum. Retrieved 19 August 2010.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Nicéphore Niépce". Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  4. ^ "Joseph Nicéphore Niepce Biography (1765-1833)". Retrieved 19 August 2010.

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