Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Amazing Félix Nadar

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Nadar Self-Portrait in Balloon
Loretta reports:

A review of When I Was a Photographer, a book published over a century ago and only recently translated into English, had me investigating Félix Nadar, which turned out to be the pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1820-1910).

The name will be as unfamiliar to many of my readers as it was to me. In his own day, though, Nadar was a celebrity. He knew everybody—and he photographed them—alphabetically from Tsar Alexander III to Emile Zola, as his Wikimedia Commons page demonstrates.

He was far more than a sought-after portrait photographer, though. Nadar became the first photographer to devise a way to use artificial lighting, in order to take pictures of the Paris catacombs. He was also a balloonist who one day discovered, after numerous failed attempts, how to take aerial photographs without ruining the plates (the problem was the balloon’s gas valve). This trial and error accomplishment transformed mapping techniques. It also led to this Daumier caricature
Nadar élevant la Photographie à la hauteur de l'Art
as well as inspiring Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon.

Along with his identities as photographer, balloonist, and inventor, Nadar was a caricaturist and writer. He was, in short, a man of many talents, living in an era and a city, Paris, of tremendous creative energy.
Nadar Caricature

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.


Hels said...

I came across Nadar the first time in a very roundabout way.

Renoir met the art dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, who agreed to be Ren­oir's agent. When Renoir and his young artist friends wanted to organise themselves, Pissarro agreed to prepare their written manifesto, Durand-Ruel arranged the collection and Nadar provided his studio in Boulevard des Capucines for their very first exhibition (1874)!

Quinn said...

I've known "Nadar" for a long time, but did not know about the translation of his book! Thank you!!

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