Menu Shopping cart
Your basket is empty.
Support us


Exhibitions and Projects
Temporary | 13 Oct. 2021 – 16 Jan. 2022

Masterpieces of Portraiture

Les Grands Portraits de Nadar

Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (Paris, 1820−1910) was konown as Nadar from the age of twenty. A student of medicine, journalist, writer, caricaturist and left-leaning adventurer, he became a photographer by accident. Born in Paris in 1820, he died there ninety years later. He contributed substantially to the establishment of photography as a fine art. Nadar opened his first photo studio in 1856 and produced a great number of portraits of notable personalities that add up to a vivid image of a time of political perturbation, social change and the rise of Modernism in Paris. Defeated on the battleflieds of the Franco-Prussian War, France manifested its cultural prestige and grandeur in the last third of the 19th century. The exhibition unveils 41 portraits pulled from the collodion plates and developed by an identical procedure, utilising the authentic materials of albumen prints, as used by Nadar. In front of his camera lens sat the most notable representatives of European culture,  who we know by their works, and now, thanks to Nadar, also by their appearance. Among them are the men and women of letters Hugo, Sand, Baudelaire, Zola and Turgenjev, and composers Verdi, Rossini and Berlioz, as well as the painters Delacroix, Courbet and Manet.

The original exhibition was conceived by Laure Véron from the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris, while the Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Ministry of Culture – France, produced the facsimilie. One of its hosts was the Galerija Matice srpske, Novi Sad, Republic of Serbia in 2019, where the core of the exhibition was upgraded with a spirited contextual interpretation for visitors of all ages. They extended their generosity to the National Gallery of Slovenia to include texts of Dubravka Lazić and Jelena Ognjanović in its version of the catalogue as well as adapting their installation solutions to the gallery space in Ljubljana.

The Collodion Technique

Following the two pivotal discoveries in the history of photography − the invention of the Daguerrotype  (Louis Daguerre) in the Talbotype (William Henry Fox Talbot) – in 1851, Frederick Scott Archer, a British sculptor, and Gustave Le Gray, a French photographer, almost simultaneously invented a new method of developing photographic plates by applying  collodion. This technique accelerated photograph making by twenty times and was also used by Nadar. The procedure is based on the chemical infusion of potassium iodide or potassium bromide into collodion, which is then applied to a glass plate. The plate is then submerged in silver nitrate to produce the light sensitive silver iodide or silver bromide. Still wet, the plate is then exposed in the camera. At that stage the latent image is invisible. It is developed in pyrogallic solution and stabilised in sodium thiosulfate, subsequently replaced by potassium cyanide. The whole procedure has to be carried out with wet materials since the dried collodion emulsion is insensitive to light. 

The exhibition is organised by Jeu de Paume in Paris, in collaboration with the Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Ministry of Culture – France, with the support of the Institut français de Slovénie and the participation of the Galerija Matice srpske nad the National Gallery of Slovenia, for its presentation in Ljubljana

Project organised by
Jeu de Paume, l’Institut français de Slovénie
Galerija Matice srpske
National Gallery of Slovenia

Jeu de Paume & Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine, ministère de la Culture − France

Tina Buh, Andrej Smrekar

Exhibition set-up
Andrej Smrekar

Graphic design
Kristina Kurent

Conservation and restoration of exhibits
Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, ministère de la Culture − France

Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, ministère de la Culture − France

The exhibition was made possible by

13 October 2021 – 16 January 2022

National Gallery of Slovenia
Narodni dom Gallery
Cankarjeva 20
1000 Ljubljana