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the-artists-mother-or-wife1Photo by Paul Nadar

Taken by Nadar’s (ringmaster, publicist, and performer in a highly theatrical life, journalist, bohemian, left-wing agitator, playwright, caricaturist, and aeronaut, and most of all, photographer, Nadar was the pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon in 1820) son, Paul, the photo is presented as signed by Nadar himself in Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida. The lovely French exccentric auteur, purposefully misled the audience, suggesting that it could not be established whether the image represented Nadar’s mother or wife. The deliberated confusion is supposed to enforce Barthes’ argument on the signifacne (or lack thereof) of his own mother photograph to the readership: “it would be nothing but an indifferent picture.”

Jazz revealed by Joel Snyder and later presented by W.J. Thomas Mitchell in “Picture Theory: Essays on verbal and visual representation”