Th[éophile] Gautier

Object Details


Th[éophile] Gautier


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




Paris, France (Place created)


about 1856


Salted paper prints from glass negatives


24.9 × 18.3 cm (9 13/16 × 7 3/16 in.)

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Here Theophile Gautier embodies the image of the Romantic poet. He sports an elegant cap of damask cloth trimmed with braid. His shaggy beard and hair seem to grow right into his furry overcoat. He stands gazing thoughtfully away from the camera, solemn and erect, his hand thrust into his waistcoat.

Gautier was a poet and journalist who championed the concept of "art for art's sake," that is, that art need serve no other purpose than to exist for its own achievement. He later softened his approach, explaining that, "smitten in my youngest years with painting and sculpture, I became a delirious lover of art…." Gautier and Nadar were lifelong friends. As editor of the journal L'Artiste, Gautier published many of Nadar's photographs, including this portrait in 1859.

The oval print is of the kind that Nadar offered for sale in his studio, an edition print. Another print of this same image is arched at the top like a tombstone.

The Flowering of Early French Photography, 1840-1870 (April 28 to June 28, 1987)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 28 to June 28, 1987
The Flowering of Early French Photography: Selections from the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection (December 20, 1988 to May 7, 1989)
  • The Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore), December 20, 1988 to February 12, 1989
  • Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo), March 11 to May 7, 1989
Real / Ideal: Photography in France, 1847-1860 (August 30 to November 27, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 30 to November 27, 2016