Pierrot riant (1855)

Nadar (1820-1910)

Pierrot riant (Pierrot Laughing)
Gelatin-coated salted paper print, 27.3 x 19.8 cm
Metropolitan Museum of ArtNew York

We owe the contemporary image of Pierrot to the famous mime Jean-Gaspard Baptiste Duburau, who replaced the ruff and wide white hat of the commedia dell’arte character with the long blank face and black skull cap that we recognize today. Charles Duburau, his son and also a mime, was asked by Nadar and his brother Adrien to pose for a series of “têtes d’expression” that would serve as publicity for the brothers’ struggling studio. The series was an enormous popular success. (MET)