Felix Nadar - Pierrot the photographer, 1854
Nadir asked the mime Charles Deburau (1829-1873)
from the Théâtre des Funambules to pose for a series.
The portrait of Pierrot as a photographer is the first in the Deburau album. It was the perfect introduction to the series intended to promote Nadar's studio. The star is shown alongside a camera which he seems to be operating. His left hand is telling the model to look at the lens and not at him. With his right hand, he is taking out a plate.
One can imagine the plate in Pierrot's hand containing an undeveloped portrait of Nadar at work, just as the plate taken out by Nadar contains the image we see here. Thus each becomes the photographer and the model of the other. This confusion of identities is in the best tradition of the Commedia dell'arte.
French ceramic hand painted Pierrot statue
Pierrot is a stock character of pantomime whose origins are in the late 17th-century Italian troupe of players performing in Paris known as the Comédie-Italienne. His character in contemporary popular culture is that of the sad clown, pining for love of Columbine, who usually breaks his heart and leaves him for Harlequin.
Performing unmasked w/ a whitened face, he wears a loose white blouse with large buttons and wide white pantaloons. Sometimes he appears with a frilled collaret & hat, usually with a close-fitting crown and wide round brim, more rarely with a conical shape like a dunce's cap.