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Pierrot Running

Artist:
Nadar (French, Paris 1820–1910 Paris)
Artist:
Adrien Tournachon (French, 1825–1903)
Person in Photograph:
Person in photograph Jean-Charles Deburau (French, 1829–1873)
Date:
1854–55
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
Image: 26.5 x 20.8cm (10 7/16 x 8 3/16in.) Mount: 41.3 x 34.5 cm (16 1/4 x 13 9/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.43
Not on view
In late 1853, Félix Tournachon (Nadar) paid Gustave Le Gray to teach photography to his younger brother, Adrien, a painter of some talent frequently in his charge. At the same time Félix himself learned to use the camera from his friend Camille D'Arnaud. Promising to assist his brother, Félix set up a studio for him on the Boulevard des Capucines. Adrien worked alone until September 1854, then turned to Félix for help. The two brothers collaborated until January 1855, when competitive friction ruptured the arrangement and led to a lawsuit through which Félix recovered sole use of his pseudonym, Nadar.
During the time they worked together, the brothers made a series of large photographs of Charles Debureau, son of Baptiste Debureau, the famous mime of the Théâtre des Funambules. These photographs attracted much public attention and won the gold medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1855 in Paris.
Designed as an elaborate publicity campaign for the photographers, the suite of more than fifteen photographs of characteristic expressions forms an episodic visual narrative of the comical misadventures of the pantomime character Pierrot. This photograph shows Pierrot in an attitude of pursuit or flight. Despite the immobility required by the relatively long exposure, the simulated movement is wonderfully expressed. A static, splayed demonstration of action in a shallow space, the picture's content is as concise as a dictionary definition, its form as legible as that of a runner on a Greek vase.
Inscription: No inscriptions or annotations visible
Jean-Pierre Scialom, Zurich; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, April 23, 1985

Charles Deburau
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