Ivan Vassilyevich Boldyrev (1850 — after 1917) is known to historians for his keen interest in the technical development of photography and his inventions in the field. Treated by contemporaries quite ambiguously, Boldyrev's inventions, according to a detailed list in this brochure published in 1883 include a self made lens and an "improved camera, quite light, with fixtures" and "resinoid film", prototype of contemporary photographic film. And although Boldyrev's inventions were presented at the Pan-Russian Art and Industry Exhibition in Moscow in 1882 and were noticed both by various bureaucratic institutions and outstanding scientists including Dmitry Mendeleyev, they did not appear to be of interest to national manufacturers. The fate of Boldyrev's inventions was not very lucky, most likely because of the negative treatment they received from the members of the highIronically, Boldyrev's own writings indicate that he perceived his works primarily as a means of demonstration of yet another invention or technical skill. His extraordinary talent for composition noticeable in Bakhchisaray palace or in the series on St.Petersburg hospitals from late 1880-ies, was something of a matter-of-course for him. One can only marvel at this strange indifference or consider it characteristic for great artists of our times. Nevertheless, he was right to say, "my work was not in vain".

Photographer and inventor Ivan Vassilyevich Boldeyrev was born on 9 September 1850 into a poor Cossack family in Ternovskaya village of Tsimlyansk district, Rostov region. Boldyrev later said that he had learned reading and whiting quite late. Initially destined to obtain a clerk's position, Boldyrev eventually chose another way. As he would later explain, "being since young age interested in mastership I decided to learn photography as it could provide for my living and give me access to other cities".

In 1870, Boldyrev made his first invention, the "universal lens" which he used in his early portrait shootings (artists of Novocherkassk theatre). Two years later Boldyrev decided to move to St.Petersburg. In the capital, he worked as photographer assistant and retoucher in the studio of the well known portrait and landscape photographer Alfred Lorens, and attended drawing classes at the Society for Encouragement of Artists. In 1874 Boldyrev was admitted to the Academy of Arts as non-credit student.

In 1875–1877 Boldyrev created photographs that became part of series entitled Views and Types of Second Don District dedicated to his landsmen, probably his main characters.

Since 1878, Boldyrev worked regularly at the Imperial Public Library photographing interiors and creating portraits of scientists, including Vladimir Vassilyevich Stasov who highly ranked Boldyrev's skills. In 1880 the critic initiated Boldyrev's trips to Crimea for the shootings of Bakhchisaray palace, the monument of architecture.

Boldyrev exhibited his works for several years, from 1878 to 1883, all the time seeking to obtain the approval for his technical inventions from the members of Photography department at the Imperial Russian Technical Society. In spite of some useful experiments, these attempts were not successful.

In 1882, Boldyrev exhibited at the Pan-Russian Art and Industry Exhibition in Moscow about 50 of his photographs and one of his most interesting inventions, resinoid film. He was awarded the bronze medal for "photographic images made using special methods invented by the author".

In 1885, Boldyrev took part in the International Exhibition of Inventions and Development in London.

The fate of Boldyrev's inventions, and of the author himself, was not lucky. His public experience in 1885 on use of resinoid film has been received well but it proved not feasible for Boldyrev to make further promotion of his ideas without financial support.

However, it would be wrong to consider him a failure. Beside the works already mentioned here, one should not forget Boldyrev's artistically done album Photographs from Nature (1874-1880). Boldyrev's 1880s photographs of I. S. Koshkin's anthracite mine are an interesting example of early Russian industrial photographs made at low light conditions. He is also the author of a series shot in late 1880s and dedicated to the work of outstanding St. Petersburg physicians, S. P. Botkin, N. I. Sokolov and their colleagues.

In 1888, Boldyrev's works were exhibited at the First Photography Exhibition. The photographer received an honorable mention from the Imperial Russian Technical Society "for the photographs of artistically compiled scenes with use of artificial lighting". Ten years later was probably the last time that Boldyrev exhibited his works before Russian audience, at the Fifth Photography Exhibition. Information of his further fate is sparse, his life only traceable until 1917.

Ivan Boldyrev's photo studio addresses in the years 1905 and 1906 are known as 44 Nevsky Prospect and 19 Vladimirsky Prospekt, correspondingly.

The exhibition in ROSPHOTO shows Boldyrev's major series, cycles and albums: Views and Types of the Second Don Region (1875–1877), indoor portraits from the Photographs from Nature album, Outdoor and Indoor Views Taken with Artificial Lighting by Ivan Boldyrev of I. S. Koshkin's Anthracite Mine, along with images illustrating the author's research in taking photographs with artificial lighting provided by kerosene lamps and candles, a series of portraits of St. Petersburg figures of culture and a series dedicated to the work of distinguished St.Petersburg physicians S. P. Botkin and N. I. Sokolov.

The current exhibition was prepared in cooperation with Elena Valentinovna Barkhatova (Ph.D. in art history), head of Prints department of Russian National Library, as well as Lyudmila Sergeyevna Polyakova, Director of the Library of Science at the Russian Academy of Arts, and the library's photographic collection custodian, Maya Yurievna Kozlova.

The time has shown the artistic talent of Boldyrev, author of remarkably distinctive photographs. His photographic images were highly ranked by contemporaries including Vladimir Vassilyevich Stasov. The famous critic counted his favourite Itinerants' genre paintings alike to Boldyrev's portraits of cossacks in the impression.