Light painting, daguerreotype and memoirs of a photographer from St. Petersburg


Visiting exhibitions does not lead to good, after them many questions and thoughts arise,

you start digging topics that you didn’t know beforewere of interest. Exactly this happened with the formation of photography in Russia, it became interesting how much the prints cost, who the first photographers were. I think that several materials will appear around this topic, in each of which we will consider separate topics: the cost of images, the perception of photography and paintings - in a word, we will try to approach the topic from different angles. But now I want to present to you the memoirs of Sergei Lvovich Levitsky, one of the first photographers in Russia, he offered daguerreotypes in the capital of the empire. An excerpt from his memoirs was published in a photographic yearbook in 1892. Below this excerpt is published according to the transcript taken here.

The memories are extremely interesting and describe the first steps of photography in Russia, I am sure that this look at the past will be an interesting immersion in history for you. So, let's read.

"For some time I did not dare to fulfillthe desire expressed by the editors of the Yearbook to share with her the material that has accumulated in the course of my fifty years of activity in the photographic field. Actually, my biography is not of the slightest interest, but the ardent, lively participation that I took, first in the improvement of the modest daguerreotype, and then during the first experiments in photography, allowed me to collect some material that may be of interest for the future history of photography.

I was born in Moscow in 1819.In 1835, when I was 16 years old, I entered the Moscow University in the Faculty of Law, without feeling, however, the slightest attraction to the legal sciences. I confess that I was not even impressed by the brilliant lectures of the young professors P. G. Redkin, N. I. Krylov, Barshev, who had just returned from abroad, woke the entire faculty from the half-asleep state in which he was. Comrades in the course were people who later occupied an important place in Russian science: K. D. Kavelin, A. N. Popov, A. D. Schumacher - in the verbal faculty continued the course who entered a year earlier: I. D. Delyanov (Minister of Public Education ), Yuri Samarin, A. F. Bychkov.

Legal science was not given to me - I was drawn topositive sciences to the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics; physics, and especially chemistry, was the goal of all my aspirations, but my relatives strongly demanded that I complete the course of legal sciences and enter the service, of course, the civilian one. The consequence was that I became a real student and, after receiving my diploma, was sent to serve in St. Petersburg in 1839. On the recommendation of Count Sergei Grigoryevich Stroganov, I entered directly into the office of the Minister of the Interior as an assistant clerk. At first, I liked my job; I was one of the most accurate officials. Despite the fact that I devoted all my free time from service to my favorite occupations: galvanism, galvanoplasty and, most of all, daguerreotype. The first daguerreotype apparatuses in Russia appeared on sale in Moscow, at a certain G. Vokerg; these were large, blackened wooden boxes, of which one, with a simple incendiary glass inserted, served as a chamber, the other for iodization, the third for mercury vapours; everything was put together somehow and, of course, one could neither expect nor demand good results from such an apparatus, despite the illiterate instructions attached, on a piece of newsprint. Its price was 25 rubles in banknotes. It turned out that G. Vokerg was a full-blooded Russian, namely, a Muscovite who turned his surname "Grekov" into "Vokerg" in order to more attract buyers with the resulting foreign name. Then many aristocrats appeared in St. Petersburg, who ordered, as news that everyone was interested in, daguerreotype apparatuses directly from Paris. Count Aleksey Bobrinsky was the most diligent in daguerreotyping, followed by Prince Sergey Sergeevich Gagarin, Prince Gruzinsky and others. The best results received, no doubt, gr. Bobrinsky, who very successfully shot his winter garden on a single plate. This picture was presented to the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

The first daguerreotype establishment for the publicopened by the French lithographers Davignon and Fauconnier in Nikolaevskaya Street near the Bolshoi Theatre. This firm did not exist for long; she passed into the hands of Bergamasco, father of the famous K. I. Bergamasco. Following them, a number of establishments appeared: Schoenfeld, the Zwerner brothers, Plakhovo, Doutendey, Veninger, the best of all.

A. I. Denier the first of the academic artists discovered inPassage his original workshop, which differed from others in its artistic direction. An artist himself, he knew how to surround himself with artists: they worked and improved for him: Radlov, our famous Kramskoy, Sokolov, Griner. Denyer was a great success, followed by Veninger, who retouched Zichy.

Then the word or the name "photography" was notstill in use; photographs on paper were called daguerreotypes on paper, although there was nothing in common between the daguerreotype process and prints on paper. I tried to generalize the name and suggested the Russian word light painting, which fully conveys the meaning of this invention. Then the famous publicist of that time, O. I. Senkovsky, who wrote under the pseudonym of Baron Brambeus, was in power and fought with everyone. I got it for the introduction of a new word. I then lived in misfortune and almost daily saw writers, including Belinsky, Panaev, Kraevsky, Yazykov, gr. Sollogub. I sincerely regret that I cannot convey all the witticisms that poured on this unfortunate, albeit apt name "light painting".


Affiliate material

Reality and prospects of the IT professions market

What professions are the most popular and highly paid?

Saturday coffee #223

Pour a cup of invigorating Saturday coffee andcheck out the news of the week. Apple released new devices, Anker introduced sports headphones, Lenovo showed interesting concepts, and a new brand of cars will appear in Russia ...

Volkswagen Taos test. Nice compact crossover

Volkswagen Taos is the most compact crossover of the German automaker, which came to Russia in the summer of 2021, expanding the company's model range.

Sonos Roam portable speaker review

Smart functionality in a compact package…

In 1843 she was educated, according to the highestby command, a commission for the study and organization of Caucasian mineral waters and, to my great joy, I was appointed clerk; most of the members did not know Russian, and therefore the choice fell on me, as I understood and spoke German and French, in order to draw up minutes, translate and record all, often very heated, debates.

My joy knew no end when I was approvedin this position and left the office with its correspondence, relationships, vacations. First of all, I took my apparatus and 25 dozen electroplated silver-plated records. I agreed to go with Yu. F. Fritzsche, a chemist appointed to the commission for the precise analysis of waters (Fritssche later became a member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in chemistry). He also carried with him a daguerreotype apparatus, which greatly contributed to our rapprochement. Caucasus! Caucasus! Where at every step you are captivated by either the beautiful countryside or the majestic views of the Caucasian ridge. Expanse was to my apparatus. At first, however, the organization of the commission, its situation and the first orders took all the time; I seemed to feel that my poor apparatus was groaning from idleness. After ten days everything was settled successfully, and we could set about research (we were given, or, better to say, seconded three soldiers who carried the apparatus, helped and generally rendered considerable services).

Returning to Petersburg, in 1844, I had toback to office work. Having handed over all the cases and the report on the Caucasian Commission to the Medical Department, I began to seriously think about going abroad. I was drawn to Paris, which was the center of development and scientific development of the daguerreotype, while photography on paper was maturing in England. Degerrotype represented a completely new, inexplicable process for science itself, while photography developed on the ground already prepared. In the last century, many scientists knew that some silver compounds turn black in the light, and Professor Charles in Paris made silhouette portraits on paper, probably prepared with silver chloride and darkened in strong light (the figure, or rather, the profile, comes out white and the background dark , of course, without any apparatus, because the figure obscured the light). The great merit of Daguerre, was the discovery of the developer, or rather, the possibility of manifestation; he guessed that the light on the iodized silver plate must produce its chemical action, but it is invisible, and therefore it was necessary to find a means to make this action visible, to reveal the results of the chemical process that took place in the light. Daguerre was a wonderful artist, but he was never a chemist and noticed his discoveries, working by feel, because all the techniques he developed were news in science itself. A direct proof of this is the striking impression that was made on the whole host of great scientists, at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences, by the solemn presentation of the details of the Daguerre trial to the famous Francois Arago.

If Daguerre were a chemist or only familiar withelementary knowledge of chemistry, he would inevitably not stop at iodine, but would test the rest of the salts, that is, the entire group: both chlorine and bromine, and, perhaps, the mysterious fluorine. After Arago’s statement (probably from the words of Daguerre) that it would hardly ever be possible to reproduce living creatures in a daguerreotype way, no more than a year later, in the spring of 1840, the opticians Lerebour and Claudet, on the terrace of the Tuileries Palace, took a portrait of King Louis from nature Philip. I saw this portrait; it reflected all the shortcomings of the first experience; the size ? plates (8 × 6 centimeters), a full-length figure sitting in an armchair, and on a white background; silver plates were prepared on vapors of iodine chloride.

Finally, in 1844, my dreams came true:I asked for a resignation and, having received it, immediately went abroad through Vienna, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, and from there through Marseille to Paris; There were no railroads back then. At that time in Vienna Vogtländer's father began to become famous; he acquired from Professor Petzval the right to exclusively manufacture lenses according to his calculations; These lenses gave much more light and therefore worked much harder. Therefore, when I arrived in Vienna, the next day I went to look for Vogtländer; then he occupied a very cozy shop near Kaertner Strasse. The old man received me very kindly; I decided to purchase a newly designed 3-inch lens from him, which he willingly offered to take home for testing. I was surprised that this lens recommended by him, in spite of a very sharp, distinct image when pointed at the frosted glass, gave a cloudy picture on the plate, far from clear, although in my camera the frosted glass completely coincided with the plate, and moreover, when used With the help of the Chevalier lens, the image on the plate came out, although twice as slow, but positively sharp from corner to corner. The focus of the French lens was much longer. The next day I went to Vogtländer for an explanation of this phenomenon. He attributed it to the difference that exists with good lenses between the optical and chemical focuses (which I had no idea about before). To my remark that my French lens always gives me a quite distinct image, proving the positive coincidence of both focuses, he categorically answered me: “Dann haben Sie ein schlechtes Objectiv, weiljedeswissenschaftlichberechnetesObjectivbesitztunumganglicheinendoppeltenFocus” (Then you have a bad lens, since anyone calculated on a scientific base, the lens must have double focus). At present, this shortcoming has been completely eliminated and put into the archive as an anomaly of the initial experiments.

From Vienna, via Trieste, Venice, Bologna,Florence, I went to Rome, where I immediately met with a whole family of Russian artists. At that time there lived: F. I. Jordan, who treated me so kindly in his diary (published in Russkaya Starina last year), A. A. Ivanov, who painted his picture, Ramazanov, Stavasser, Beine, Monighetti, Pimen Orlov, Klimchenko, Moller; often in this circle were N. V. Gogol and F. V. Chizhov.

I had to shoot a group in which I participated andGogol. There are very few copies of this group, since it was taken on a daguerreotype plate in ?, from which it was then difficult to make a copy. One of the copies came to the esteemed Mikhail Ivanovich Semevsky, who reproduced it with a phototype, if I am not mistaken, in the "Russian Antiquity" of the eighties.

There were 16 or 17 people in this group;the posing was on the open terrace in Perrault's workshop; the plate was held for 40 seconds (now, under such illumination, it would be necessary to hold the gelatin plate for 1 or 1 ½ seconds), but despite the long pose, the center of the group came out excellently, the edges were not quite distinct. The plate was prepared on vapors of iodine bromide, which was known commercially under the name: liqueur Gaudin (Godin's liquid). To shoot views of Rome, I then preferred to prepare a plate on iodine chloride vapor; although such a plate worked much more slowly than prepared with iodine bromide, it gave strong and embossed images. At that time, Count Chernyshev-Kruglikov lived in Rome with his family. Gogol visited them daily. As a countess, a highly educated lady who worshiped Gogol, did not persuade him to pose for a daguerreotype, she could not convince him to act alone. One day, after a delicious breakfast, he fell asleep as he sat in an armchair. I had everything ready. He slept very peacefully. Since the window was removed from 4 to 5 arshins from the chair, I held it for about three minutes; he did not move, but his restraint was weak, and besides, the pose with his head thrown back is far from beautiful. Gogol, having learned about the impromptu filming, became terribly angry and insistently demanded that I erase the record, but the countess took possession of it, and since then I have not even seen her.

Six months later, not without sadness parting withRome, I finally went to Paris, from the capital of art to the capital of science - to the goal of my journey. In 1845, Paris was far from being that magnificent, enchanting city with its splendor and wealth; he looked more serious, there was no that roar, that crazy, stupid movement, pushing, screaming, noise, slapping with whips, everyone lived to work, to do business; the exchange existed even then, but took its place for transactions allotted to it. Now all of Paris has become a stock exchange; its atmosphere is speculation, based not on deeds, but only on advertising. With what reverence I searched in the Latin Quarter for the building of the Sorbonne, majestic in its medieval simplicity; the very next day I signed up for Dumas' chemistry and Despres physics courses. When I arrived at the first lecture, I found the hall overflowing with listeners. The seats were an amphitheatre; not finding my number, I took the first empty seat at the very top. What was my surprise - sitting next to me was a middle-aged gentleman in a simple gray jacket, but with the appearance of a military man; I peered and couldn't believe my eyes - sitting next to me was my former boss, head of the Ministry of the Interior, Count Alexander Grigoryevich Stroganov; science and the audience have equalized and brought us closer. Most of the winter we sat side by side, although the count was not always neat.

In the first month I got to know everyoneluminaries according to the daguerreotype. I went to Charles Chevalier first, having the right to show the results obtained in Italy with a lens purchased from him. In Chevalier I found a very amiable man, surrounded by microscopes, optical instruments and, among other things, lenses, the first device of which he disputed with Petzval and attributed to himself. As a true Frenchman, he constantly repeated: "ces allemands se fourrent partout" (these Germans keep up everywhere) - although Petzval created a completely special, new type of composite lens that had nothing to do with the combination of Chevalier glasses.

I also made the acquaintance of Mr. Valikur, who published the first manual for daguerreotyping, as part of a whole series of similar manuals for various specialties in the Encyclopedie Roret.

In the workshop of the Chevalier they gathered almost every morningall lovers of daguerreotype: Dr. Fo (Faux), Edmond Baco, Fizeau, sometimes Daguerre himself, Baron Gros, one of the most excellent daguerreotypers (later the French ambassador in Venice), Baer, ​​who photographed on paper almost before Talbot, Meunier, professor of chemistry in Marseille.

Then, in Paris, daguerreotype was concentrated inPaleroyal itself (Palais royal) and the surrounding streets. The shops of the Paleroyal were occupied for the most part by restaurants, jewelers and opticians. Chevalier had his own shop there, but his workshop and office were in the vicinity of the Cour des fontaines. The best daguerreotypists were Valle, Sabatier, Legros and Derucier. The public preferred Valya, since the latter did not have time to clean the records himself, he was forced to give them to be cleaned in neighboring restaurants, where cooks cleaned spoons and silverware every morning; they soon got used to this business, so that Valya lured two or three to him, of course, for a larger salary; then, little by little, he forced one of them to iodize, the other to watch the formation of an image on mercury vapor, so that after a while they realized that the matter was not at all difficult, which at the same time turned out to be beneficial; in a year or a year and a half they already opened their establishments and the daguerreotype began to spread very quickly in the distant streets and environs of Paris, and, finally, little by little in all European capitals. At the same time, artistry could not be expected, and it was not required.

In 1845 or 1846 he came to Paris aloneAmerican artist Warren-Thomson from New York, who did not speak a word of French. He brought a letter of recommendation from the Russian Consul in New York to our Vice Consul in Paris, Ivanov, who, not knowing what the matter was, recommended it to me. I accepted him as an artist, but it turned out that he was our daguerreotype colleague. When he showed me a collection of his works, I was decidedly in an indescribable delight; I had never seen anything like it in Paris, or in Vienna, or in Italy: they were not daguerreotypes, but positively artistic works. There was strength, relief, some kind of unusual lighting, softness of the shadows with the preservation of all halftones; the pictures were all on half-records, while in Paris they did not go beyond a quarter of a plate. Thomson informed me that he intended to open a daguerreotype workshop in Paris. I introduced him to all the celebrities who were all amazed by his work. We started looking for a comfortable room, which was rather difficult in those days; finally we stopped on the boulevard Poissonier, maison du pontdefer, where on the 2nd floor there were three large halls with huge windows. There he settled down, and in less than a month he shot 30 to 40 portraits daily. All amateurs and competitors were exhausted to find out how he prepares his records. Now, too forty years later, the daguerreotype has already been forgotten, it is even difficult to find a complete selection of all the devices used in the daguerreotype, and the Thomson method, which at one time spread in Germany, Russia, France, has now been archived like old trash. But for photographic science it should not be forgotten.

I ask permission from my boring readersвоспоминаний сообщить этот способ, который, может быть, пригодится и для бумаги. В дагерротипии чисто выполированная серебряная пластинка подвергалась действию паров йода, от чего она принимала густо золотистый цвет, и в этом состоянии светочувствительность ее выражалась 15-ю минутами экспозиции; после йода она подвергалась действию паров брома (в виде бромистой воды или над известью, насыщенной парами брома), причем золотистый цвет пластинки бледнел и светочувствительность возрастала, требуя уже около 8-ми минут экспозиции, но при малейшем избытке брома слой не давал вовсе изображения, а представлял один густой вуаль; это обстоятельство чрезвычайно затрудняло приготовление пластинок. Если же в этом виде пластинка подвергалась опять действию паров йода, то вторичное йодирование поглощало совершенно вуаль от брома и давало чисто превосходное изображение в 4 минуты, следовательно, почти в четыре раза скорее. Для более верного определения времени советую, если первое йодирование до золотистого цвета требовало 1 минуту, а бромирование, положим, 30 секунд, то для второго йодирования нужно только 20 секунд, т. е. 1/3 времени первого йодирования; тогда пластинка обладала высшею степенью чувствительности. Барон Гро, о котором я уже говорил, насыщал известь парами хлоробромистого йода (chlorobromured’iode) и только посредством нее заготовлял свои пластинки. Он, как и многие, впоследствии изменил дагерротипу и перешел к коллодиону. Свой коллодион составлял он сам, исключительно пользуясь русским пироксилином Манна, который признавал лучшим из всех. Я, лично работая в Париже около 14-ти лет, всегда выписывал пироксилин от самого К. Х. Манна. Считаю не лишним привести при этом следующий случай, в достоверности которого ручаюсь. Барон Гро отправлен был в Пекин для заключения мира с Китаем после войны с Францией и Англией. Барон Гро счел долгом запастись фотографическим аппаратом, пластинками и коллодионом, который мы для него составили, разумеется, из пироксилина Манна; все было отлично упаковано и отправлено в Марсель на военный пароход, который назначен был для посольства. Подъезжая к Гонконгу, пароход встретил страшный ураган и был затоплен, так что барон Гро едва мог спасти свой портфель с инструкциями и мундир; все вещи его потонули и в том числе его сундук с фотографическими принадлежностями. Исполнив свою миссию, барон Гро вернулся в Париж. Года через два он получает известие, что пароход поднят из воды и вещи его, разумеется, все промокшие и испорченные, отправлены в Париж, в том числе тысяч пятьдесят золотом и весь фотографический скарб, который он дал приказание отправить ко мне. Раскупорив ящик, я нашел много предметов сильно подмоченными соленой морской водой – между прочим, нахожу два литра нашего коллодиона в двух закупоренных склянках. Вполне уверенные, что коллодион совершенно разложился, мы, однако, решились его испытать – и что же? Мы получили великолепнейший результат, как бы на только что изготовленном коллодионе. Это качество должно приписать только пироксилину Манна. В то же время французское правительство обещало награду в 50 тысяч франков тому, кто изобретет постоянный не изменяющийся пироксилин для военного дела.

1848 and 1849 I worked with great zealover the solution of a problem that had haunted me since 1847. Let modern science judge and condemn me, but forgive the impulses of a 26-year-old amateur chemist; perhaps, in time, the successes of photochemistry will confirm the validity of my dreams.

In 1850 my circumstances changed; II was forced to return to Russia and try to extract from my photographic experience the means to support my family. Thus, on October 22, 1850, on the day of the Kazan Mother of God, I opened my light-painting establishment opposite the Kazan Cathedral, where I still work, having withstood the forty-year torture of the life of a professional photographer.

How much pleasure, passion, joy inphotographer's activities, as much, if not much more, troubles, disappointments and daily struggle with quirks, stupid demands, and most importantly, with the blindness and conceit of the public.

This time I will finish my story, hoping next year to continue my story, or, better, the struggle of a professional photographer with the public.

P.S. Agree that the style is excellent, and the story itself deserves attention. Later we will talk about how photography has changed, its availability has grown, and let's start with the cost of prints.

Kodak fans and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Marketing Lessons

How at the Chicago World's Fair they fined forwrong cameras, rented out Kodak and who are the "devils of Kodak". The right to privacy and complaints about photographers, dark rooms in hotels - remembering the history

Kodak girls as a social phenomenon of the 19th century. One Hundred Years of Girls' Evolution

How Kodak came up with the idea of ​​using girls to popularize photography even before the suffragettes; a challenge to society, the uniform of a woman photographer and a girl on cardboard in swimsuits a hundred years later.

The most popular camera of the early 20th century - Kodak Brownie

How George Eastman created a $1 camera that did little but became the most popular on the planet. "Toy", which opened the world of photography for children and not only.