View from the Window at Le Gras is a heliographic image and the oldest surviving camera photograph. It was created by French inventor Nicéphore Niépce in either 1826 (February 2–9?) or 1827 in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, France, and shows parts of the buildings and surrounding countryside of his estate, Le Gras, as seen from a high window.
Niépce captured the scene with a camera obscura projected onto a 16.2 cm × 20.2 cm (6.4 in × 8.0 in) pewter plate thinly coated with Bitumen of Judea, a naturally occurring asphalt. The bitumen hardened in the brightly lit areas, but in the dimly lit areas it remained soluble and could be washed away with a mixture of oil of lavender and white petroleum. A very long exposure in the camera was required. Sunlight strikes the buildings on opposite sides, suggesting an exposure that lasted about eight hours, which has become the traditional estimate. A researcher who studied Niépce's notes and recreated his processes found that the exposure must have continued for several days.
In late 1827, Niépce visited England. He showed this and several other specimens of his work to botanical illustrator Francis Bauer. View from the Window at Le Gras was the only example of a camera photograph; the rest were contact-exposed copies of artwork. Bauer encouraged him to present his "heliography" process to the Royal Society. Niépce wrote and submitted a paper but was unwilling to reveal any specific details in it, so the Royal Society rejected it based on a rule that prohibited presentations about undisclosed secret processes. Before returning to France, Niépce gave his paper and the specimens to Bauer. Niépce died suddenly in 1833, due to a stroke.