Exhibitions/ Art Object

Hermaphrodite

Artist:
Nadar (French, Paris 1820–1910 Paris)
Date:
1860
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
Image: 23.9 x 19.2 cm (9 7/16 x 7 9/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Bequest of Robert Shapazian, 2010
Accession Number:
2010.457.1
Not on view
Since its inception, belief in the camera’s capacity to capture the world more accurately than human observation has prompted reliance on photography as a clinical tool. Its use as a seemingly detached record was particularly pronounced in anatomical research of the nineteenth century, a period in which many presumed physical appearance to be an index of character and culture.
In an undated letter, the chair of the Paris municipal hospital asked Nadar to create portraits of an unknown patient "with as much truth and art as you can." Although he rarely applied for copyright, Nadar registered his series of nine photographs of a hermaphrodite, which were granted copyright protection on the condition that they were used only for scientific purposes and not put on public display.
Inscription: [no marks or inscriptions on verso]
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