Atelier Nadar

L'Atelier Nadar was established in 1854 by 'the father of photography,' Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1820-1910). Tournachon, nicknamed Nadar, was a French photographer, caricaturist, novelist, journalist, and balloonist. As he struggled to make a living as a journalist and caricaturist, he was persuaded to take up photography. He learnt the collodion process, and teamed up with his brother Adrien in 1853 in his studio. At the time when professional studios imitated portrait painting through the uses of props, such as columns and curtains, to surround their sitters, Nadar became aware of portrait photography's power of expression simply through the sitter's pose, facial expression and body language, and with those tools, it was possible to capture the sitter's personality. By 1855, his portraits received praise at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. In 1859, he opened his own studio and went on to enjoy great success. He continued to write and work as a caricaturist, and his ballooning adventures made him an international figure in the 1860s. He opened his new studio in 1872 and eventually retired from photography in 1886, but continued to write. He founded the magazine Paris Photographe. His son Paul continued the atelier's work.  Nadar photographed architecture, landscapes (he was the first person to take aerial photographs), the sewers and catacombs of Paris, but it is his portraits that brought him acclaim.  They are distinctive for their plain dark background, and their simplicity and directness makes them all the more remarkable.









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