The Fiery Nadar Took Paris’ Pulse

A self-styled bohemian of the mid-19th century, the young photographer captured the spirit of the time in portraits now on exhibit at the Met

From the award-winning print series of popular mime Charles Deburau to sensitive portraits of Charles Baudelaire, Sarah Bernhardt (before she became famous), Gustave Dore and other legendary personalities of mid-19th century Paris, photographer Felix Nadar captured the exuberant and revolutionary spirit of his times. For six golden years from 1854 to 1860, when photography was still in its infancy, he set the standard for portraiture. Then, never one to let grass grow under his feet, he joined up with Jules Verne and other like-minded enthusiasts to promote flying machines. This took him to the skies over Europe on long, highly publicized flights in the Geant — the largest hot-air balloon, up to that time, in the world. A selection of photographs from Nadar's golden age is on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City through July 9, 1995.

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