Nadar in a gondola of a balloon
Albumen silver print, 9.8 6.5 cm, by Nadar Studio, c. 1863
J.P. Getty Museum

Nadar took part in staging balloon flights, and cartes-de-visite of himself participating in these adventures were most likely given away as publicity to draw spectators to his events. These now-humorous images demonstrate a sense of self-promotion and profit-seeking, mingled with glaring inconsistencies. The makeshift basket in which Nadar positioned himself was likely a laundry hamper hanging in his studio. He was a tall man, and the basket is clearly too small to accommodate him adequately, particularly during a real flight. He is clearly kneeling. The view behind him is staged, and he is dressed as a gentleman of leisure, possibly to suggest that ballooning was a safe and refined pursuit, worthy of prudent investment. The binoculars and anchor attempt to make the portrait more convincing. These image would have been quite impressive in their time.


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