/ by Sarah Jamison

   Nadar was the pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1820 – 1910), a French photographer, caricaturist, journalist, novelist, and balloonist. He took his first photographs in 1853 and in 1858 became the first person to take aerial photographs, using a hot air balloon. He also pioneered the use of artificial lighting in photography, working in the catacombs of Paris. Nadar opened his first photography studio in 1854, but he only practiced for six years. He focused on the psychological elements of photography, aiming to reveal the moral personalities of his sitters rather than make attractive portraits. Bust- or half-length poses, solid backdrops, dramatic lighting, fine sculpturing, and concentration on the face were trademarks of his studio. His use of eight-by-ten-inch glass-plate negatives, which were significantly larger than the popular sizes of daguerreotypes, accentuated those effects. He photographed many of the famous and influential artisans including Sarah Burnhardt, Gustave Dore, and Monet. Around 1863, Nadar built a huge (6000 m3) balloon named Le Géant (“The Giant”), thereby inspiring Jules Verne’s, “Five Weeks in a Balloon”. During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), Nadar organized the construction of balloons (ultimately 67 in number) to reconnect the besieged Parisians with the rest of the world, thus the world’s first airmail service. In April 1874, he lent his photo studio to a group of painters, thus making the first exhibition of the Impressionists possible. He is credited with having published the first photo-interview, in 1886, of famous chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul.

Nadar was the pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1820 – 1910), a French photographer, caricaturist, journalist, novelist, and balloonist. He took his first photographs in 1853 and in 1858 became the first person to take aerial photographs, using a hot air balloon. He also pioneered the use of artificial lighting in photography, working in the catacombs of Paris. Nadar opened his first photography studio in 1854, but he only practiced for six years. He focused on the psychological elements of photography, aiming to reveal the moral personalities of his sitters rather than make attractive portraits. Bust- or half-length poses, solid backdrops, dramatic lighting, fine sculpturing, and concentration on the face were trademarks of his studio. His use of eight-by-ten-inch glass-plate negatives, which were significantly larger than the popular sizes of daguerreotypes, accentuated those effects. He photographed many of the famous and influential artisans including Sarah Burnhardt, Gustave Dore, and Monet. Around 1863, Nadar built a huge (6000 m3) balloon named Le Géant (“The Giant”), thereby inspiring Jules Verne’s, “Five Weeks in a Balloon”. During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), Nadar organized the construction of balloons (ultimately 67 in number) to reconnect the besieged Parisians with the rest of the world, thus the world’s first airmail service. In April 1874, he lent his photo studio to a group of painters, thus making the first exhibition of the Impressionists possible. He is credited with having published the first photo-interview, in 1886, of famous chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul.