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Semiotics of the Kitchen (excerpt), by Martha Rosler


[Standing Female Nude]

Nadar (French, Paris 1820–1910 Paris)

Salted paper print from glass negative
Image: 20.2 x 13.3 cm (7 15/16 x 5 1/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1991
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Famed for his portraits of writers, artists, and left-wing politicians, Nadar is known to have photographed only three female nudes. This one was made at the behest of the painter Jean-Léon Gérôme to assist in the process of painting Phryné before the Areopagus, displayed at the Salon of 1861. Gérôme’s painting depicts the moment when the famous courtesan Phryné, on trial for impiety, is suddenly unveiled by her lawyer; persuaded by Phryné’s divine beauty, the jurors acquit her.
    Like Phryné, who is said to have modeled for the ancient Greek painter Apelles and other artists of antiquity, Nadar’s model, Marie-Christine Leroux (1820–1863), was widely sought by artists of her time and was the basis for the character Musette in Henri Murger’s Scènes de la vie de bohème.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and inscribed in ink on print, recto LR: "Nadar// 118 St. Lazare"; inscribed in pencil on mount, recto LL below image: "Mariette"; artist's blind stamp on mount, recto LC below image: "Nadar// [encircled by:] 113 RUE St LAZARE 113// PAS DE SUCCURSALE"

  • Provenance

    Jules-Auguste Troubat, secrétaire to Charles-François de Sainte-Beuve; [...]; [Pierre Ternay and Augustin Pierre Flament, Paris]

  • Notes

    The model is said to be the original Musette of "La Vie Bohème". This print is thought to be unique.

  • See also