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Nadar

Nadar nädär´ [key], pseud. of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon gäspär´-fālēks´ to͞ornäshôN´ [key], 1820–1910, French pioneer photographer and writer, b. Paris; he adopted the legal trademark of Nadar as a young man. A multitalented young bon vivant, with a gift for self-promotion, he began his career as a caricaturist, and wrote for magazines and newspapers. In 1853 he opened a photographic studio that became a meeting place for literary and artistic celebrities; he captured their faces in portraits that combine brilliant composition with psychological insight; his finest were taken mainly from 1854 to 1860. Nadar is best known for his pioneering aerial photographs. Having conceived (1855) the idea of mapmaking and surveying from a balloon, he went aloft for the first time in 1857, quickly installed a darkroom and lab in a balloon gondola, and completed his first aerial photographs c.1858. Nadar also pioneered airmail (using balloons) during the siege of Paris in 1870 and invented the photo-essay, e.g., his photographic series of the Paris catacombs and interviews accompanied by photographs. In his day, however, his prose essays and novels brought him greater fame than his photographs. Much of his work is preserved in the Bibliothèque nationale.

See A. Begley, The Great Nadar (2017).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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