Detail View: The AMICA Library: Alexandre Dumas père (1802-1870)

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Name: 
Nadar, Paul (Paul Tournachon)
Creator Nationality: 
European; French
Creator Role: 
Creator Dates/Places: 
1820 - 1910
Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) French, 1820-1910Born Gaspard-Félix Tournachon in Paris, Nadar is probably the best known French photographer. His portraits of celebrities and public figures help define our impression of France in the second half of the19th century; his panache in conducting his business helped popularize photography. Educated at the Collège Bourber, Paris (1833-36), Nadar moved to Lyon, where he studied medicine (1837-38) before continuing his studies at the Hôtel Dieu and the Bicêtrein Paris. He wrote satires and essays and drew caricatures (his pseudonym derived from his barbed wit aimed against the establishment) for a number of Paris publications, eventually founding several of his own, and was a highly visible figure in the city'scultural and artistic life. Learning photographic technique from Adophe Bertsch and Camille d'Arnaud, Nadar founded a studio in 1854. Twenty years later his son Paul, also a photographer, became director of the business and by 1886 headed the firm. He also worked for a time with his brother, Adrien, who sometimes called himself Nadar jeune, a practice which later prompted Nadar to file a lawsuit. Nadar's exploits with aerial balloon photography were of both photographic and historic importance. Below ground, he used artificial light to make surveys of the catacombs and sewers of Paris, novel and highly popular curiosities. With his son Paul as photographer, he is credited with the first photo-interview, conducted with the scientist and color theorist Michel-Eugène Chevreul on his 100th birthday in 1886. Because of the importance of his work and the notoriety of his sitters, among them Franz Liszt, George Sand, Sarah Bernhardt, and Honoré Balzac, Nadar will long occupy a key place in the development of photography. T.W.F.
Creator Birth Place: 
Paris, France
Creator Name-CRT: 
Alexandre Dumas père (1802-1870)
Title Type: 
Full View
Creation Date: 
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
salt print from wet collodion negative
Classification Term: 
Image: 23.8cm x 17.8cm
AMICA Contributor: 
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: 
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
John L. Severance Fund
Written in brown ink on verso: "Dumas père."; in pencil on verso [faded or erased] "Nadar (5)"; "Dumas-5 [?]"; [and another mark, unclear]
Nadar and Alexandre Dumas (author of The Three Musketeers, published in 1844) became friends in the 1840s, a period when the photographer was working as a journalist, novelist, and caricaturist. In 1855 the two men dreamed of writing a play together, but ultimately they collaborated only on this portrait, made in November of that year. Seated casually, hands folded comfortably on his cane, Dumas addressed Nadar with a direct and lively expression. The portrait reflects Nadar's ability to evoke a sitter's natural personality.
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