The Swiss physicist and Chopin connoisseur Alain Kohler, already known for discovering in a private German home a Pleyel piano that once belonged to Frédéric Chopin, has made another sensational find. Kohler, together with Gilles Bencimon of Radio France Internationale, recently announced that they have unearthed a new, previously unknown photograph of Chopin.
The portrait was discovered by pure coincidence, again in the private home of a music-lover Kohler was visiting. In the middle of a discussion, Mr. Kohler noticed on the wall the disturbing image of a character still fairly young, elegant and with a dark face. Kohler immediately made the connection. Aware that the image was unknown to the Chopin iconography, he convinced its owner to authorize him to make a copy of the document in order to study it carefully.
Kohler contacted several specialists in various fields and was actively assisted by Mr. Gilles Bencimon in making careful comparisons with other portraits of the composer – photographic, painted, drawn and carved. The two researchers came to the conclusion that what they had found was in all likelihood a photographic reproduction of a daguerreotype performed in 1847 in the studio of Louis-Auguste Bisson. Bisson also made one of the two other existing photographs of the composer: the similar background decor suggests that the photo was taken in the same studio.
Like the other daguerreotype by Bisson, this new photograph shows Chopin marked by illness and depression. Chopin himself never mentioned the portraits in any of his correspondance, but his pupil Jane Stirling apparently knew about them, and wrote to the composer’s sister Ludwika Jedrzejewicz after his death: “Tell the dear Mother that the daguer[reotypes] are really too ugly – they will not resemble him or her at all” (February 9, 1850).
Does this new photo change your view of the person Frédéric Chopin in any way? Please post your comment below!
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