Today’s post is about Nadar, the great French photographer and certainly one of the most interesting people I’ve come across.
Nadar was born Gaspard-Félix Tournachon in Paris in April of 1820 to middle-class parents. His father was a publisher and bookseller, but not a very successful one. Victor Tournachon went broke in 1833 and died a few years later, when his son was 17 years old.
Initially, young Gaspard-Félix was interested in becoming a doctor, particularly the emerging field of psychology. He was a bright student – but after his father’s death, he left school and joined the bohemian life in the poorer quarters of the city. It was there that Nadar acquired the nickname that he is known by today. The young man had a curious habit of adding “dar” to the end of some words, just to make them longer (loquaciousdar?). This vocal tic delighted his friends, who dubbed him Tournachon-dar. Later this was shortened to Tournadar, and finally evolved to its final form: Nadar.