half-length view of a reclining old man with beard propped on a pillow facing toward the right
Photography ensured that the death of a public figure was never entirely a private affair. The celebrated French author Victor Hugo was attended by many artists who were at his bedside when he died. Nadar’s portrait of Victor Hugo was staged: a dark curtain was placed behind the subject and mirror was used to cast shadows, creating a more affecting contrast and mood.
Photography was still a developing medium that was slowly gaining more technical flexibility and artistic credibility. While the first photographic portraits had been perceived to be “poor man’s” paintings, in time photography gained recognition as an art form in itself. This was partly due to photographers like Nadar, whose theatrically staged portraits convinced people of the many new possibilities of the medium.
deaths; historical figures; literature; portraits; men; writing
Link to share this object record: