Unique daguerreotype works which are kept at the museums, archives and libraries of the Russian Federation
The current exhibition presents two volumes of the Consolidated Catalog – Volume I and The Collection of the Historical Museum. The visitors to the event will be able to learn about the catalog from the original printed version and its digital variant. Interactive applications and video materials of the electronic museum give detailed review of the featured artworks created by the earliest photographic method in history, which was invented in 1839 by the French artist and photographer Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre. The period from the 1840s to the 1860s was considered the golden age of daguerreotype.
The publication of the consolidated catalo has been realized by ROSPHOTO within the frames of the Program for preservation of the national photographic heritage. At the beginning of the preparation of the consolidated catalog, the main task of the specialists of the State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSPHOTO was to identify and collect information about the unique monuments of early photography in Russia. But at the stage of categorizing the material obtained from colleagues, it became clear that in many cases the items were in need of further scrutiny: dating, establishing of provenance and attribution. Not all the necessary information about daguerreotypes is known to the keepers: this sort of material, unlike paintings or graphic works, is still lacking in scientific apparatus. And the lack of literature on the history of photography in the 1840s–1860s and professional directories of daguerreotypists, both Russian-born and foreigners operating in Russia, often complicates the attribution and dating of these old photographs. Such complications also stem from the poor present condition of daguerreotypes due to their chemical and physical deterioration, which makes their analysis very difficult.
The editorial board of the catalog includes ROSPHOTO’s associates along with invited experts: specialists in Russian history, art historians and archivists. The principal contributors of the essays on the history of photography and attributions are Elena Barkhatova (National Library of Russia) and Tatyana Saburova (State Historical Museum). Without their participation, knowledge and experience, this project would simply not have been possible.
The first volume of the Consolidated Catalog features the collections of the Science Library of the Russian Academy of Arts (Saint Petersburg), the Russian Museum of Ethnography (Saint Petersburg), the State Russian Museum (Saint Petersburg), the National Library of Russia (Saint Petersburg), the State Museum of Leo Tolstoy (Moscow), the State Memorial and Natural Reserve and Museum Estate of Leo Tolstoy “Yasnaya Polyana” (the Tula Oblast, Yasnaya Polyana), St. Petersburg State Museum of Theater and Musical Art (Saint Petersburg), the AA. Bakhrushin State Central Theater Museum (Moscow), the Glinka National Museum Consortium of Musical Culture (Moscow), the National Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan, the Saint Petersburg Branch of the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Fyodor Tyutchev Muranovo Estate Museum, the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineering and Signal Corps (Saint Petersburg), the State Peterhof Museum Reserve, the State Pavlovsk Museum Reserve and the State Arkhangelskoye Museum Reserve (Moscow).
The Collection of the Historical Museum contains information about the most comprehensive daguerreotype collection in Russia from the State Historical Museum. Among the featured artworks are the portraits of important public figures of the 19th century — the Decembrist S. G. Volkonsky, writers I. S. Turgenev and A. I. Herzen, historians T. N. Granovsky and I. E. Zabelin, Slavophil A. S. Khomyakov.
Continuing their work on the identification of the monuments of early photography in the state archives of the Russian Federation, the compilers of the catalog The Daguerreotype in Russia hope to publish the entire body of the existing “metal pictures,” not only saving them from oblivion and “extinction,” but also giving an impetus to further in-depth study of these precious assets of the national historical and cultural heritage.