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GASPAR-FÉLIX TOURNACHON / dit: NADAR (France, Paris 1820-1910 / act: Paris)

Nadar Nadar was the pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, a French photographer, caricaturist, journalist, novelist and balloonist.

Nadar was born on 6 April 1820 in Paris. He was a caricaturist for Le Charivari in 1848. In 1849 he created the 'Revue Comique' and the 'Petit Journal pour Rire'. He took his first photographs in 1853 and in 1858 became the first person to take aerial photographs. He also pioneered the use of artifical lighting in photography, working in the catacombs of Paris.

Around 1863, Nadar built a huge (6000 m³) balloon named 'Le Géant' (The Giant), thereby inspiring Jules Verne's Five Weeks in a Balloon (1869). The Géant project was unsuccessful and convinced him that the future belonged to heavier-than-air machines. Afterwards 'The Society for the Encouragement of Aerial Locomotion by Means of Heavier than Air Machines' was established, with Nadar as president and Verne as secretary. Nadar was also the inspiration for the character of Michael Ardan in Verne's From the Earth to the Moon (1865).

On his visit to Brussels with the Géant, on 26 September, 1864, Nadar erected mobile barriers to keep the crowd at a safe distance. Up to this day, crowd control barriers are known in Belgium as Nadar barriers.

In April 1874, he lent his photo studio to a group of painters, thus making the first exhibition of the Impressionists possible. He photographed Victor Hugo on his deathbed in 1885. He is credited with having published in 1886 the first photo-interview of famous chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul (1786-1889), then a centenarian, and also took erotic photographs.

Nadar run a studio at 35, Boulevart des Capucines, Paris. From 1895 until his return to Paris in 1909 the Nadar photo studio was at 21 Rue de Noailles, Marseille. On his passing on 21 March 1910, Nadar was buried in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

[Megakles Rogakos 12/2009]

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