The Great Nadar: The Man Behind the Camera
The first great portrait photographer, a pioneering balloonist, the first person to take an aerial photograph, and the prime mover behind the first airmail service, Nadar was one of the original celebrity artist-entrepreneurs. A kind of 19th-century Andy Warhol, he knew everyone worth knowing and photographed them all, conferring on posterity psychologically compelling portraits of Manet, Sarah Bernhardt, Delacroix, Daumier and countless others—a priceless panorama of Parisian celebrity. The Great Nadar is a brilliant, lavishly illustrated biography of a larger-than-life figure, a visionary whose outsized talent and canny self-promotion put him way ahead of his time.
Adam Begley is the author of Updike. He was the book editor of the New York Observer for twelve years, and has been a Guggenheim fellow and a fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the CUNY Graduate Center. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Paris Review, The Guardian, The London Review of Books, and The Times Literary Supplement. He lives in England.
Among the luminaries that Nadar photographed was Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. View Nadar’s captivating portrait of Dumas in the Athenæum’s digital collections and then make an appointment to view an early edition of Les Trois Mousquetaires with stunning illustrations by J.A. Beaucé and F. Philoppoteaux in the special collections reading room.
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