Augustin-Eugène Scribe (1791-1861) playwright, librettist

Object Details


Augustin-Eugène Scribe (1791-1861) playwright, librettist


Nadar [Gaspard Félix Tournachon] (French, 1820 - 1910)




1855 - 1859


Salted paper print


25.4 x 21 cm (10 x 8 1/4 in.)

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Playwright Eugène Scribe poses more conventionally than most of Nadar's sitters from this period. In his mid-sixties, the successful playwright wore elegant and expensive formal daytime clothing. He displays neither playfulness in his costume, as in some Nadar portraits, nor much liveliness of expression. The line of Scribe's mouth is so uncommonly straight as to give little idea of temperament. His left eye is mild and even, but his right eye arrestingly burns out from deep shadow, providing a clue to the anxiety that reportedly caused the playwright to gnaw on his handkerchief when a rehearsal was going badly.

Scribe persevered in writing plays despite the failures of his first thirteen works. Critical and popular acclaim, and ultimately great wealth, rewarded his tenacious productivity in writing more than 230 plays and librettos, or texts for musical works. His work is now seldom performed, save for a few operas for which he wrote the librettos.

Nadar/Warhol: Paris/New York (July 20, 1999 to May 28, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 20 to October 10, 1999
  • The Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), November 6, 1999 to January 30, 2000
  • The Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore), March 12 to May 28, 2000

Baldwin, Gordon, and Judith Keller. Nadar Warhol: Paris New York: Photography and Fame. Introduction by Richard Brilliant. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), p. 115.