Cadart married the sister of a painter, which led him in 1859 to start publishing reproductions of paintings in the form of both photographs and etchings.
After a few years, he threw himself entirely into the promotion of etching, in which he took an explicit stance against the growing popularity of photography.
This was a deliberate strategy—by dismissing photography as mechanical and uninspired, he wanted to emphasise etching as ‘the caprice, the fantasy, the most immediate way to convey one’s thoughts.’
In this way, he offered contemporary artists like Édouard Manet a platform for their etchings, shared his knowledge of etching techniques, and promoted appreciation of etching as an original art form.
In 1866 he expanded his activities to America, where he founded the French Etching Club of New York.
Alfred Cadart (ed.), Eaux-fortes modernes. Publication d’oeuvres originales et inédités (5 vols.), Paris, 1862–66.
Janine Bailly-Herzberg, L’eau-forte de peintre au dix-neuvième siècle. La Société des aquafortistes, Paris, 1972.
Anna Sigrídur Arnar, ‘From Illustration to Original Print’, in The Book as Instrument: Stéphane Mallarmé, the Artist's Book, and the Transformation of Print Culture, Chicago, 2011.