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"Le Journal Illustré" Publishes the First Photo-Interview (September 5, 1886)


On September 5, 1886 Le Journal Illustré in Paris published on pp. 284-88 "L'Art de vivre cent ans. Trois entretiens avec Monsieur Chevreul." This appeared in Vol. 23, No. 36 of the periodical.  Besides the portrait of Chevreul on the cover, the article included  half-tone reproductions of a series of twelve unposed photographs taken on August 18, 1886 by photographer Paul Nadar of his father, the photographer and aeronaut Félix Nadar, interviewing the chemist and sceptic Michel Eugène Chevreul on Chevreul's 100th birthday. This was the first photographic interview, sometimes called the first media interview. 

In front of the camera, Nadar and Chevreul discussed photography, color theory, Molière and Pasteur, the scientific method, the crazy ideas of balloonists, and – of course – how to live for 100 years. It was a lively and interesting conversation between two legends of the 19th century: one born before the French revolution; the other destined to see the marvels of the airplane and motion pictures.  

In 2012 ABC Australia made a commercial documentary film re-creating the interview in the style of an early motion picture.  

Auer, Paul Nadar. Le premier interview photographique. Chevreul. Félix Nadar. Paul Nadar (1999), included a reduced-size fold-out reproduction of the issue of Le Journal Illustré in which the photo-interview was published so that the images could be viewed side-by-side in sequence.