The turbulent life of the writer Henri Mürger originated and epitomized the durable myth of a starving artist struggling to survive in a garret in Paris. His friends were not-yet-famous poets, artists, writers, and musicians, and his short stories about their lives made him famous. These ironic accounts encapsulated and celebrated the bohemian milieu in which both Nadar and Mürger were conspicuous figures.
Nadar and Mürger's lives were entwined throughout the 1840s, their deep friendship ending only when Mürger, weakened by hardship and dissipation at the age of forty, died in Nadar's arms. Shortly afterwards Nadar joined two friends in writing a memorial book that included Mürger's letters. It may have been at this time that Nadar rephotographed his 1857 portrait of Mürger to make this tombstone-shaped print. Mürger appears much older than his thirty-five years, and his eyes are oddly wary as he looks toward the camera and one of his closest friends.