Victor Hugo Nadar  (French, 1820-1910)

Printing with printing ink alone could produce these images, and heliographic engraving, invented by M. Niepce de Saint-Victor, made this difficult problem possible. Selfless inventor, he did not apply himself, but his few students extended and perfected his procedures. MM. Riffaut and Ch. Nègre obtained very fine results. Finally MM. Baudran and De La Blanchère have just brought this art to a final improvement, by applying heliographic engraving without retouching to portraits, reproductions and landscapes. The gravure printing will be without doubt one of the most beautiful and complete conquests of modern science. Eder

The series of portraits was likely made as a demonstration of Baudran et de la Blanchere’s process intended for comparison between the works of other producers involved in the Duc Du Luynes competition. The sumptuous (and visibly retouched) photogravure substantiates the depth and range of tonality available to their photogravure process. The work also proposes a sly equivalence between the portrait reproduction and the printed matter below the image that includes a facsimile of Hugo’s signature, bolstering the authenticity of the reproduction by including the autograph of the portrait subject.

Reproduced / Exhibited

Hanson, David A. Checklist of Photomechanical Processes and Printing, 1825-1910. , 2017. p. 16.


Eder, Josef M, and Edward Epstean. History of Photography, by Josef Maria Eder. Translated by Edward Epstean. New York: Columbia University Press, 1945. Print.