[Auguste Vacquerie]

Object Details


[Auguste Vacquerie]


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




about 1865


Hand-painted salted paper print from a glass negative


26 × 20.7 cm (10 1/4 × 8 1/8 in.)

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Auguste Vacquerie, a poet, playwright, paintings collector, and occasional art critic, was admitted to poet Victor Hugo's intimate circle as a very young man. While in exile with Hugo and his family on Jersey, Vacquerie continued to write, grew the beard he wears in Nadar's portrait, and, having learned photography from Hugo's son Charles, made a series of photographs documenting the family and the local landscape. Thus for a short time Vacquerie was a photographer, one of the very few whom Nadar photographed.

In order to compete with painted portraits, photographers of the 1850s and 1860s frequently employed artists to embellish their images. Nadar was not an exception in this practice, although few painted photographs from his studio have survived. In this example, variously dense layers of reddish-black ink cover almost the entire surface of the print, with the overall effect of coarsening the image. Although the ink has been skillfully applied, particularly in the hair and beard, the subtlety of expression around Vacquerie's eyes has been lost and the shape of his mouth distorted. The retoucher radically changed the shape of Vacquerie's left sleeve by painting out a billowing wrinkle in order to simplify the silhouette. With his photographic sensibilities, Vacquerie may have rejected the painted proof, causing it to remain in Nadar's studio.

On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: 150 Years of Photography (May 7, 1989 to February 25, 1990)
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), May 7 to July 30, 1989
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, September 9 to November 26, 1989
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles), December 29, 1989 to February 25, 1990
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
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

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. 69.