Sarony, Napoleon (1821 - 1896)

After having travelled in Europe and England, Napoleon Sarony returned to New York where he opened his photography studio. He rapidly became conscious of the growing fascination for theatre that swept the country and thus proposed inexpensive cartes de visite that satisfied actors in need of publicity and fans collecting their images. What he also modified were the backgrounds employed as he used replicas of the theatre backdrops the comedians would play in front of, turning their portraits into true celebrations of their artistry. Famous for his depiction of a caricatural dandy-esque Oscar Wilde, Napoleon Sarony dedicated the end of his career to the defense of freedom of expression. He joined the To Glorify the Nude show’s battle, organized by the Association of American Artists, in 1894 and published his Sarony’s Living Pictures, a provocative tribute to Edouard von Kilanyi’s staged tableaux vivants, living pictures, that featured many female nudes and were accused of pornography. 

Tags / Napoleon Sarony - American Photographer - 1870s - Pictorialism - Theatre - Femininity

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