[Self-Portrait in Costume]

Nadar French

Not on view

In the early 1860s, the famous portrait photographer Nadar was spotted at Parisian soirées decked out in an odd outfit—a mash-up of fanciful indigenous North American dress and a retro, full-bottomed baroque wig—a get-up referred to in the contemporary press as an “eskimo costume from the Sundays of Louis XIV.” Undoubtedly harking back to weekend balls held at Versailles during the reign of Louis the Great, Nadar’s weird evening wear permitted the self-aggrandizing photographer, a fervent republican, to capitalize on the romantic notion of the noble savage even while thumbing his nose at imperialist policies that endangered Native peoples.

[Self-Portrait in Costume], Nadar (French, Paris 1820–1910 Paris), Salted paper print from glass negative

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