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Catacombs, Paris

Artist:
Nadar (French, Paris 1820–1910 Paris)
Date:
April 1862
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
Image: 23.7 x 18.6 cm (9 5/16 x 7 5/16 in.) Mount: 46 x 33.6 cm (18 1/8 x 13 1/4 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Denise and Andrew Saul Gift, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.813
Not on view
By the end of the eighteenth century, overcrowded cemeteries in Paris had become a medical problem and city officials began to use the catacombs beneath the streets as a massive burial ground. By 1810 the “city of the dead” had opened to the public and artists soon followed, generating a new interest in the macabre. Although the prefect of Paris officially closed the catacombs to the public in 1830, lovers of the bizarre periodically gained access to the subterranean vaults. Known primarily for his portraiture, Nadar made this photograph of the ghoulish décor with an artificial light of his own design—an early arc lamp known as a Serrin Regulator.
Inscription: Signed and inscribed in ink on mount, recto BR: "Epreuve obtenue dans les Catacombes // de Paris, à l'aide du Regulateur // Ferrin. - Avril 1862 // Nadar"
[Robert Koch Gallery]; Gilman Paper Company, New York, November 20, 1984

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940," June 3, 2008–September 1, 2008.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jeff L. Rosenheim. "Paris as Muse: Photography, 1840s – 1930s," January 27, 2014–May 4, 2014.

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