The Nadars, a photographic legend

The Nadars


Henry Murger (1822-1861)

Félix Nadar, between 1855 and 1860

Salt-paper print from a collodion glass negative, 22 x 16.9 cm.
BnF, Prints and Photographs Department, EO-15 (10)-PET FOL
© Bibliothèque nationale de France
Henry Murger was both a poet and a novelist. he started out as part of Champfleury's circle, the Society of Water Drinkers, before striking out on his own to try his chances with the small press. Nadar's intimate knowledge of the world of journalism enabled him to contiribute to several papers including first L’Audience, then Le Corsaire-Satan. That was during the bohemian period at Hôtel Merciol, on Rue des Canettes, that inspired the serialized stories that Murger published in the mid-1840s. Adapted for the stage in 1849, with the title La Vie de Bohème (Bohemian Life), then, in 1851, as a novel, Scènes de la vie de Bohême (Scenes from Bohemian Life), the works cemented Murger's fame, even as he continued to live a carefree lifestyle. He suffered a very painful death, shortly before he would have turned forty. To present a counterpoint to the media tales of Murger and his bohemian lifestyle, Nadar, Adrien Lelioux and Léon-Noël published Histoire de Mürger pour servir à l'histoire de la vraie bohème, par trois buveurs d'eau (A Story of Murger to Serve the History of True Bohemia, by Three Water Drinkers, 1862).