Bonhams : Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (1820-1910); and Nadar "Jeune" (Adrien Tournachon) (1825-1903) Charles Deburau, Mime, in Pierrot Costume;
Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (1820-1910); and Nadar "Jeune" (Adrien Tournachon) (1825-1903)  Charles Deburau, Mime, in Pierrot Costume;

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Lot 47
Attributed to Nadar
(Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (1820-1910)
and Nadar "Jeune" (Adrien Tournachon) (1825-1903)
Charles Deburau, Mime, in Pierrot Costume

US$ 60,000 - 80,000
£ 48,000 - 63,000
Amended

Photographs

5 Apr 2019, 14:00 EDT

New York

The Archives of Galerie Gérard Levy
Attributed to Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (1820-1910), and Nadar "Jeune" (Adrien Tournachon) (1825-1903)
Charles Deburau, Mime, in Pierrot Costume, 1854-1855
Oversized salted paper print, mounted on card, unique in this format.
19 1/4 x 15 3/8in (49.6 x 59.3cm)
mount 22 1/8 x 16 1/4in (56.2 x 41.2cm)

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    With Galerie Gérard Lévy, Paris

    Literature
    Miquel, Le Second Empire: Collection Tresors de la photographie, Paris, Barret, 1979, p. 220
    During Félix and his younger brother Adrien Nadar's short and ill-fated collaboration, they made a series of portraits of the mime artist Charles Deburau, illustrating various expressions—here surprise.
    Charles Deburau (and before him his father Baptiste) transformed the commedia dell'arte character Pierrot from a devious rogue into a more modern "everyman", whose quick-thinking, sense of irony and street "smarts" had broad appeal. Pierrot also became a metaphor for the creative artist for writers such as Baudelaire and George Sand.
    The radical Deburau series won great critical acclaim and Adrien (who claimed sole authorship for it in his acrimonious dispute with Felix) was awarded a gold medal for his achievement at the 1855 Universal Exposition.
    Félix Gaspard Tournachon, born in Paris in 1820, whose professional pseudonym was Nadar, was the first great portrait photographer. Before embarking on his illustrious career behind the camera, he had already made a name for himself as a journalist, caricaturist and balloonist, who counted among his friends contemporary luminaries of the age such as Charles Baudelaire, Theophile Gautier and George Sand.
    As photography began to become a lucrative proposition in the early 1850s, a banker friend of Félix's proposed backing him in a studio. His skills as a caricaturist were in such high demand, however, that he persuaded Adrien, his younger brother and an impoverished painter, to have photography lessons and become the studio's principal photographer in his place. The Nadar Brothers' partnership lasted until January 1853 when they quarreled and split. After a long and acrimonious struggle, Félix won the right to use the Nadar name exclusively and finding himself behind the camera, made some of his finest portraits. Two are included here--lot 47, a unique and oversized print of the celebrated Mime Charles Deburau, probably made with his brother Adrien, and an exquisite and extraordinarily rare tondo of Félix's son Paul (with an enchanting sketch of the child's head on the verso). Both works show Nadar's informal, yet meticulous eye when photographing his sitters. He only photographed those people he found sympathetic or meaningful, creating, as he put it, their "intimate resemblance."
    In 1860, Nadar, by now the proprietor of most important portrait photography studio in Paris (and beyond), moved the business from his garden apartment in Rue Saint-Lazare to a much grander space on the Boulevard des Capucines. From now on, unless the sitter was particularly compelling or illustrious, Nadar left the actual photography to his staff, and the studio's management eventually to his son Paul.
    Nadar was not only an accomplished businessman, capitalizing on the growing popularity and accessibility of photography with his extraordinary portraits (and in some respect creating the cult of celebrity with which we are now all too familiar), but he and his son Paul also looked towards the medium's future, pioneering underground photography made with artificial light and experimenting with aerial photography, taken from an enormous hot air balloon Le Géant.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this work is attributed to the Nadars.
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