The Nadars, a photographic legend

The Nadars


Champfleury (1821-1889)

Félix Nadar, between 1855 and 1859

Albumen print from a collodion glass plate negative, 26.2 × 20.8 cm.
BnF, Prints and Photographs Department, EO-15 (5)-FOL
© Bibliothèque nationale de France
Along with Murger, Jules Félix François Husson, a.k.a. Champfleury, was one of the faces of literary Bohemia. his ties with Nadar, though long-lasting, were always somewhat conflictual, or uneven to say the least. They nearly even had a duel at a performance of Nadar's Pierrot Ministre, in 1848, after a heated exchange of articles. Nadar caricatured him as a ragpicker in "Nadar's Contemporaries," in the March 5, 1889 issue of Le Journal amusant. This image, along with a fairly nasty, heavy-handed biographical note, required an "explanation." Along with Gustave Courbet, Champfleury advocated realism at their "headquarters" at the Brasserie Andler café. Until Zola came along, he was seen as the writer who showed the most concern for the the dark and dank places where the downtrodden dwelled, Nadar portrays him in a way that alludes both to his novel La Mascarade de la vie parisienne (The Masquerade of Parisian Life), which narrates the adventures of a ragpicker's daughter, and, especially, to Champfleury's "ragpicking" through Balzac's work. Not insignificantly, Nadar put him at the tail end of his Pantheon (n° 211 puis 231).