The Nadars, a photographic legend

The Nadars


Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) standing

Félix Nadar, 1862

Albumen print from a collodion glass negative, 14.4 × 10.4 cm.
BnF, Prints and Photographs Department, EO-15 (5)-FOL
© Bibliothèque nationale de France
Nadar was part of Baudelaire's inner circle. He both caricatured and photographed him, as well as devoting a book to him towards the end of his own life: Charles Baudelaire intime : le poète vierge (An Intimate Portrait of Charles Baudelaire: The Virgin Poet). They first met in 1843; "He advanced, as "handsome as a young God," Banville would have said. Wavy hair blowing, eyes like two coffee-colored gems" (NAF 13821, fol. 9). The caricaturist drew the cover for the Mystères galans des théâtres de Paris (Gallant Mysteries of Parisian Theatres. Nadar sometims gave the poet a hand, and Baudelaire dedicated "nbsp;Le Rêve du curieux " ("The Dream of A Curious Man"), a sonnet in The Flowers of Evil, which Nadar said he could make neither heads of tails of, to him... Nevertheless, as Baudelaire himself wrote, Nadar "is one of [his] best and oldest friends." He enjoyed the wildness and "eccentricities that make up [his] exceptional nature," and was "envious to see how well he succeeded at anything that wasn't abstract." Upon Baudelaire's death, Nadar published a long article in Hippolyte de Villemessant's Figaro. He also included the poet in La Lanterne magique (April 9, 1852) and in both Nadar's Pantheons.