Wittert, Adrien (Baron)



Person (Male)

Alternative name or descriptor

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules


  • Amateur


Life dates

Brussels, 1798 - Liège, 1880


1839 * - 1880 + Liège
Adrien Aimé Thomas, ° 29.4.1798; + 14.6.1880. Officer in the Belgian Army. A pioneering daguerreotypist, Wittert produced his first successful daguerreotypes as early as 1839. J.B.A.M. Jobard (see that name) wrote of him: "We know a higher-ranking officer in Liège who has made an instrument himself for 30 francs and who uses it with remarkable success" (Le Courrier Belge, 6.11.1839). Jobard praised this experimenter highly: "[...] as long as no investigator can be found who is familiar with the art of printing, drawing and chemistry, and who would have the time, the money and the inclination, lithography will make no further progress. Because we know virtually a single man in Europe who possesses these advantages in large measure, namely artillery Lieutenant-Colonel Wittert from Liège, whom we regard as the person most capable of advancing the art. Mr Wittert had invented colour printing and tinting well before Engelman: we are in possession of flowers and Chinese-ink drawings from his hand of a rare perfection." ("Rapport sur l’exposition de 1839", Paris, 1842, p. 288). See also the entry for Anonymous Liège<46>.
Lieutenant-Colonel in 1836, the year he arrived in Liège. Inspector of arms in 1837. Director of state armaments factory from 1838 to 1842. Director of the artillery store and of the construction arsenal in Antwerp in 1842. Colonel in 1842; Major-General in 1847. Officer of the Order of Leopold in 1848. Retired as Artillery General in 1854.
Founder member of the ABP. In 1878 he invented an instrument for instantaneously printing positive prints. At the International Exhibition in Liège in 1905, the section devoted to the history of photographic processes included "the first daguerreotype print, in September 1839, by General Baron Wittert". On this occasion, a press report stated that it had been taken "on 7.9.1839 with an exposure of 7 minutes" (La Meuse, 6.3.1905). If this uncorroborated source is correct, and it was presumably inspired by a display label or similar commentary in the exhibition, Wittert's plate would pre-date Jobard's first daguerreotype in Brussels by a week.


1839 * - 1880 + Liège


Genres / subject matter



JOSEPH, S.F. & SCHWILDEN, T. "'Un cadeau à l'Europe': naissance de la photographie en Belgique", Bulletin trimestriel du Crédit Communal de Belgique, n° 168, 1989, p. 16.
CLAES, Marie-Christine. “Les débuts de la lithographie à Liège : autour d'Avanzo, Wittert et Fabronius”, Bulletin de l'Institut archéologique liégeois, 117, 2013, pp. 216-244 [Wittert, acteur de La mutation suivante de l’image].



Affiliated entity

Association belge de Photographie

Type of affiliation

Member of

Dates of affiliation

1874 - 1880

Description of relationship


Record source



Level of detail

Dates of creation/revision

SFJ revised 26.5.2018 & 12.7.2018 ; MCC revised 4.1.2019.




Maintenance notes