April 16, 2013 Swann Foundation Fellow Julia Langbein To Discuss Comic Drawings of French Salon Paintings

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Swann Foundation Fellow Julia Langbein, in a lecture at the Library of Congress, will examine comic drawings about French Salon paintings created by the famous photographer Nadar (a.k.a. Félix Tournachon, 1820-1910).

Langbein will present “How to View an Exhibition from a Hot-Air Balloon: Nadar at the Paris Salon,” at noon on Wednesday, May 1, in the West Dining Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. The lecture is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

Langbein will focus specifically on caricatures of Salon paintings, created by Nadar during an unusual phase of his career when he briefly practiced art criticism in the form of caricature. Art historians tend to celebrate Nadar for his achievements in photography and overlook this less-studied phase that also overlapped with his interest in aeronautics (he would soon take the first aerial photographs from a hot-air balloon.)

Like many of his peers in Paris in the 1850s, Nadar tried his hand at Salon caricature, in which caricaturists for illustrated journals comically distorted the paintings displayed at the annual or biennial state-sponsored exhibition of the arts in Paris. Nadar produced caricatures of this type for an illustrated weekly magazine, Le Journal Pour Rire, and in three stand-alone albums.

Langbein will explore the symbolic significance of the hot-air balloon in the graphic imagination of 19th century France. Using materials from the Library’s Tissandier Collection and holdings of French satirical prints, she will ask how the experience of viewing art at the Salon prompted Nadar to envision art criticism as an exercise in aerial perspective.

Currently a Ph.D candidate in art history at the University of Chicago, she focuses on graphic satire and its relation to practices of art reception and criticism. In her doctoral dissertation, “Salon Caricature in Paris, 1840-1881,” she concentrates on this little-studied genre of caricature that was widely published in the Parisian press during the second half of the 19th century.

In addition to the Swann Fellowship, Langbein received a Franke Institute for the Humanities Dissertation-Year Grant and a Fulbright IIE Fellowship, among other fellowships. She completed a master’s degree in art history at the University of Chicago, and a bachelor’s in art history at Columbia University.

This presentation, sponsored by the Swann Foundation and Prints & Photographs Division, is part of the Foundation’s continuing activities to support the study, interpretation, preservation and appreciation of original works of humorous and satiric art by graphic artists from around the world. The Swann Foundation’s advisory board is composed of scholars, collectors, cartoonists and Library of Congress staff members.

The foundation strives to award one fellowship annually to assist scholarly research and writing projects in the field of caricature and cartoon. Applications for the 2014-2015 academic year are due Feb. 15, 2014. More information about the fellowship is available at www.loc.gov/rr/print/swann/swannhome or by e-mailing [email protected].


PR 13-075
ISSN 0731-3527