closings and openings

Nadar élevant la Photographie à la hauteur de l’Art (“Nadar elevating Photography to Art”). Lithograph by Honoré Daumier, appearing in Le Boulevard, 25 May 1863

Toronto. An optimist would say as a door closes, another opens. That is, as technology goes ahead, old jobs and industries die off and new ones take their place. Photography is no different. When it was announced in 1839, a French wag was said to comment that photography made the portrait painter redundant.

In fact photography opened family portraits to far more people. When the only recourse was to have a painting commissioned, few could afford the time or cost. With photography, the far shorter time needed for making a ‘likeness’ and relatively small cost opened the door to many, many more subjects.

This post shows a caricature of the French photographer nick-named Nadar in a balloon in the mid 1800s. You may have come across his name before – in 1858, he was the first person to take an aerial photograph (he used a balloon since the motorized airplane had not been invented).


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