Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Great Nadar: The Man Behind the Camera.

The Great Nadar.

Who?

The Man Behind the Camera.

I had no clue who Nadar was. But, reading the promo blurb and learning that this Nadar knew every important Parisian artist and writer, my interest was piqued.

Adam Begley's book The Great Nadar introduced me to this 19th c Parisian luminary who loved the 'new' and was on the cutting edge of every development.

Nadar (1820-1910) was born Gaspard-Felix Tournachon. His nickname, Nadar, came from his friends when a young man, and it became his "trademark and most valuable property."

He was a master in self-promoting. He was a risk taker who gave 100% to every new venture. He was a failed medical student. He "threw himself" into "startup newspapers and little magazines." He was the ultimate Bohemian living in poverty. He reinvented himself as a successful caricaturist and then as a pioneering photographer. He was a balloonist who envisioned helicopters and was the first to take an aerial photograph. During the Siege of Paris, his balloonists got news out to the world. He then helped get news into Paris through microfilm inserted into quills that were carried by homing pigeons.

A tall, thin man with orange hair, Nadar was beloved by his friends for his brilliant conversation and high spirits. He had impeccable taste in furnishing his photography studio and an impressive art collection. Nadar hobnobbed with the great stars of his time and they all sat for him to photograph.

His photography was familiar to me. He had the ability to capture his subject's nature and character. After reading Elizabeth Berg's novel on George Sand, The Dream Lover, I went online to learn more about Sand. It was Nadar's photographs that I found.

George Sand photographed by Nadar
I had known his work long before I knew Nadar himself.

I enjoyed this biography. Nadar was forever fascinating. The many presentations of Nadar's work was wonderful.

I received a free ebook through First to Read in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Great Nadar
by Adam Begley
Crown/Duggan
$30 (256p)
ISBN 978-1-101-90260-8