Alexander Dumas [père] (1802-1870) / Alexandre Dumas


The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The writer Alexander Dumas was Nadar's boyhood idol. Nadar's father had published Dumas's first novel and play, and a portrait of Dumas hung in young Nadar's room. The son of a French revolutionary general and a black mother, Dumas arrived in Paris from the provinces in 1823, poor and barely educated. Working as a clerk, he educated himself in French history and began to write. In 1829 he met with his first success; with credits including The Three Musketeersand The Count of Monte Cristo, published in 1844 and 1845, respectively, his fame and popularity were assured.

Nadar was the first photographer to use photography to enhance the sitter's reputation. Given Dumas's popularity, this mounted edition print, signed and dedicated by him, was likely intended for sale.

Dumas is represented as a lively, vibrant man. The self-restraint of his crossed hands, resting on a chair that disappears into the shadows, seems like an attempt to contain an undercurrent of boundless energy that threatened to ruin the necessary stillness of the pose and appears to have found an outlet through Dumas's hair. Around the time of this sitting, the prolific Dumas and Nadar were planning to collaborate on a theatrical spectacle, which was ultimately never staged.

Show lessRead more


  • Title: Alexander Dumas [père] (1802-1870) / Alexandre Dumas
  • Creator: Nadar [Gaspard Félix Tournachon]
  • Date: 1855
  • Physical Dimensions: 23.5 x 18.7 cm (9 1/4 x 7 3/8 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Salted paper print
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Signature: Signed in ink recto print: "Nadar/ 113 Rue S. Lazare"
  • Object Type: Print
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 84.XM.262.4
  • Markings: Blindstamp recto mount below image: "Societe Photographie Artistique/ Nadar & C/ 113 R. S. Lazare 113"
  • Inscription: Secondary Inscription: Inscribed in negative lower left recto of print and seen reversed: "155" Inscribed in ink on recto of mount by Dumas: "A mon cher Murger/Dumas." Inscribed verso mount in pencil: "Alexander Dumas"
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Photographs
  • Culture: French
  • Classification: Photographs