French, 1820 - 1910
Using the pseudonym Nadar, Félix Tournachon was a celebrated artist and caricaturist whose work appeared in satirical newspapers. He learned the photographic process to facilitate his caricatures and opened his own photographic studio. His congenial nature and the unusually large size of his prints attracted celebrities and other dignitaries to his studio and made him one of the most sought-after portraitists of his time.
Félix became embroiled in a legal battle with his younger brother, Adrien, over the exclusive right to the name "Nadar." Félix had arranged for Adrien, a painter, to learn the photographic process and then to open his own photographic studio. When the business began to fail the two collaborated, and Félix supplied financial backing, contacts, and his pseudonym. After he was asked by Adrien to relinquish his share in the studio, Félix was prompted to take legal action when Adrien continued the practice alone using the name "Nadar jeune" (Nadar the younger).
Soon after the court ruled that he was "the only, the true Nadar," Félix moved to a vast studio, the expenses of which forced him to broaden his clientele and adopt conventions of the period, including shading the background to create an oval "vignette," and experimenting with color processes and artificial lighting. His interest waned, and he left the day-to-day activities of the studio to assistants and concentrated on photographing the landscape from a balloon, and, using new techniques in artificial lighting, photographing in the catacombs and sewers of Paris. After his son Paul took over the business in 1895, Félix lived in semiretirement and wrote articles and books until his death at age eighty-nine.