Nadar, born Gaspar Félix Tournachon on April 6, 1820 in Paris, was a distinguished portraitist and pioneer of photography.
From 1863 he lived in Lyon, where he began studies in medicine. However, he did not complete them, and instead exchanged them in 1838 for the unstable life of a bohemian in Paris. He assumed the pseudonym "Nadar", began to write for magazines, and created his first caricatures. In 1849, he began to work for the political-satirical paper "Le Charivari" – in total, Nadar drew over 200 caricatures of the famous personalities of his time.
In 1854, under the influence of Talbot and Niépce, Nadar began to turn to the new and promising medium of photography. That very year, he opened his own photo studio. In this studio, famous personalities came and went: Nadar made portraits of Charles Baudelaire, Victor Hugo, Sarah Bernhardt and many others. His pictures distinguish themselves by an astonishing natural quality, which at the time was difficult to achieve because of the long exposure times required.
On a balloon flight in 1858, Nadar shot the first aerial photo in photographic history. This was not enough for the innovative high-flier Nadar – in 1863, he declared his studio to be the site of an airship company (by the way, together with Jules Verne) and came close to losing his life during a demonstration flight in the balloon "Géant".
In addition, he was one of the first to try artificial lighting (with magnesium) to take photographs of the Paris catacombs (which were also the very first), and, in 1886, he made the first photographic interview of history with the 100-year-old chemist Michel-Eugène Chevreul.
Nadar had an important pioneering role in the history of painting as well. In 1874, he organized the first exhibit of Impressionists. In 1886, he turned his studio over to his son Paul. In 1891, Nadar started the magazine "Paris Photograph", and at 80 years of age, he wrote his autobiography, "Nadar – When I Was a Photographer".
Nadar died on March 20, 1910, and was buried in the cemetery Père-Lachaise in Paris.