Musée d'Orsay: Félix Nadar Charles Baudelaire in an Armchair

Félix Nadar
Charles Baudelaire in an Armchair

Charles Baudelaire in an armchair
Félix Nadar (1820-1910)
Charles Baudelaire in an armchair
Unique salted paper print from a destroyed negative
H. 28; W. 16.5 cm
© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

Charles Baudelaire au fauteuil [Charles Baudelaire in an Armchair]

Nadar, a great portrait artist of the 1860's and an acute observer of the bohemian side of Parisian society, photographed the poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) several times between 1855 and 1858, during at least three different sittings. This print, whose negative has been destroyed, is the only known print from the first sitting, which probably took place in early 1855. It is also the most enigmatic portrait of the poet, who appears to be dreaming with glazed eyes, as if his thoughts were elsewhere...

Nadar and Baudelaire, who had first met some fifteen years previously, in the early 1840's, developed a very close friendship which, despite numerous quarrels brought about by a clash of strong personalities, survived right up to the poet's death. This friendship is recounted by Nadar in a posthumous work published in 1911 entitled An intimate portrait of Charles Baudelaire: the virgin poet. Baudelaire posed for Nadar for the last time in 1862 and one of the prints obtained at that sitting was turned into an engraving by Manet.

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