The Great Nadar: The Man Behind the Camera

Adam Begley. Crown/Duggan, $30 (256p) ISBN 978-1-101-90260-8
A self-described “real daredevil, always looking for tides to swim against,” the 19th-century French legend Nadar is depicted with a vividness commensurate with his audacity in this scintillating biography. Born Félix Tournachon in 1820, he began publishing stories and sketches while in his teens and befriended Charles Baudelaire, Gérard de Nerval, Théophile Gautier, and other literary luminaries. He then moved on to illustration, developing a distinct style of caricature marked by exaggerated heads and revealing facial features that made him famous in newspapers and periodicals under his nickname Nadar. He found his true calling in 1848, at the height of the photography boom, when he opened what would become Paris’s most famous photography studio and began turning out famous portraits of Sarah Bernhardt, George Sand, Champfleury, and other celebrities of the day. Toward the end of his life, Nadar spearheaded France’s hot-air-balloon craze and took the first-ever aerial photographs. Begley (Updike) situates his portrait of Nadar within a colorful evocation of the bohemian circles in which his subject both flourished and frequently provoked controversy. The book includes detailed descriptions of the nuances of Nadar’s unique photographic portraits. These descriptions capture the artistic qualities that attracted Nadar’s clients to his studio and that make these works his enduring legacy. 132 b&w photos. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt Inc. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/17/2017
Release date: 07/11/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-101-90262-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-9786-1415-4
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