Alexander Dumas [père] (1802-1870) / Alexandre Dumas

Object Details

Title:

Alexander Dumas [père] (1802-1870) / Alexandre Dumas

Artist/Maker(s):

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

Culture:

French

Date:

1855

Medium:

Salted paper print

Dimensions:

23.5 x 18.7 cm (9 1/4 x 7 3/8 in.)

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The writer Alexander Dumas was Nadar's boyhood idol. Nadar's father had published Dumas's first novel and play, and a portrait of Dumas hung in young Nadar's room. The son of a French revolutionary general and a black mother, Dumas arrived in Paris from the provinces in 1823, poor and barely educated. Working as a clerk, he educated himself in French history and began to write. In 1829 he met with his first success; with credits including The Three Musketeersand The Count of Monte Cristo, published in 1844 and 1845, respectively, his fame and popularity were assured.

Nadar was the first photographer to use photography to enhance the sitter's reputation. Given Dumas's popularity, this mounted edition print, signed and dedicated by him, was likely intended for sale.

Dumas is represented as a lively, vibrant man. The self-restraint of his crossed hands, resting on a chair that disappears into the shadows, seems like an attempt to contain an undercurrent of boundless energy that threatened to ruin the necessary stillness of the pose and appears to have found an outlet through Dumas's hair. Around the time of this sitting, the prolific Dumas and Nadar were planning to collaborate on a theatrical spectacle, which was ultimately never staged.

Exhibitions
The Art of Photography: 1839 - 1989 (Sezon Museum of Art) (March 3 to April 1, 1989)
  • Sezon Museum of Art, (Tokyo), March 3 to April 1, 1989
Experimental Photography: The First Golden Age 1851 - 1889 (April 11 to June 25, 1989)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), April 11 to June 25, 1989
Fame and Photography (March 9 to May 23, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), March 9 to May 23, 1993
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
Portraits of Renown: Photography and the Cult of Celebrity (April 3 to September 2, 2012)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), April 3 to September 2, 2012
Bibliography

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. 56.

Education Resources

Education Resource

Subjects

Grades

Format

Looking at Portraits: Literary Monuments

Students create a model for a monument to a literary figure after examining artworks, researching literature, and creating study drawings.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts

9-12

Long-Term Unit