Nadar (1820-1910), real name Félix Tournachon, is best known as one of the leading specialists in early photographic portraits.
But his talent as a draughtsman, as well as his psychological
perspicacity, was the subject of a fascinating and highly
successful sale at Tajan (20.93/14.35% buyer's premium) on December
3. The sale consisted of 273 caricatures of Second Empire artists,
politicians and writers, mainly in charcoal on brown paper with
Measuring approximately 9 x 6in (23 x 15cm), they dated from the
early 1850s, before Nadar took up photography, and brought a hammer
total of €504,000 (£360,000).
A handful of Nadar's caricatures can be found in the Musée
Carnavalet and Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, but the collection
here appears to have been lost from view since 1865, when they were
acquired by the vendor's ancestors from the banker Millaud, who
bought them from Nadar for 1500 gold francs. Millaud's own
caricature sold for €1300 (£930).
Individual estimates of €3000 were left trailing on several
occasions, due mainly to fierce competition between America's
Michael Sachs and Paris dealer Jean-Claude Vrain, who paid the top
price - a huge €148,000 (£105,700) - for a long-legged Nadar
self-portrait. Other famous figures among what Nadar called his
personal "Pantheon" included Balzac at €25,000 (£17,860), Alexandre
Dumas at €22,000 (£15,715), and Offenbach at €13,000 (£9290).
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