Person in photograph Jean-Charles Deburau (French, 1829–1873)
Albumen silver print from glass negative
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.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005
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
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.
Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.
Musée d'Orsay. "Nadar," June 7, 1994–September 11, 1994.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Master Photographs from the Gilman Collection: A Landmark Acquisition," June 28, 2005–September 6, 2005.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940," June 3, 2008–September 1, 2008.
Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. no. 59, p. 76.
Hambourg, Maria Morris, Françoise Heilbrun, and Paul Néagu. Nadar. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. no. 10.