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Augustine-Eugène Scribe
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Nadar
French, 1856 - 1859
Salt print
10 x 8 1/4 in.
84.XM.262.2

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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.