Nadar: A Portrait

‘A sort of giant’, with immensely long arms and legs and a mop of bristling red hair, Felix Nadar employed his creative gifts in several different arts and sciences.

On April 6th, 1820, at 195 rue Saint-Honore, a son was born to Therese Mailliet and a merchant by the name of Victor Toumachon. He was duly baptized Gas-pard-Felix. In 1825 there followed a second son, Adrien.

On November 11th, 1826, at the age of fifty-five, M. Toumachon finally married his mistress, and settled down to respectability. In 1836 the family moved to Lyons - the city from which they originated. The following year M. Tournachon died, and Gaspard-Félix found himself with a mother and brother to support.

He had had an irregular education at the College Bourbon in Paris; he now embarked - or so he claimed - on the study of medicine, and he pursued his studies for three years. It is hard to believe that this was true: he had no financial means, and he could only have frequented the hospitals as an amateur observer.

From about 1837 he was forced to look for his living elsewhere: in the local newspaper, Le Journal et fanal du commerce, and L'Eentr'acte lyonnais.

Provincial life was, it seems, unrewarding. By the beginning of 1839, the Tournachons had duly returned to Paris, where Félix-as he called himself-continued his journalism, and became dramatic critic for La Revue et Gazette des théâtres.

His Parisian circle included the engraver Leon Noel, and Charles Asselineau, a college friend (and a friend of Baudelaire).

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