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New Chopin Photo Found!

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, 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).

Reader question

Does this new photo change your view of the person Frédéric Chopin in any way? Please post your comment below!


Resources:
Press release: Polish Institute in Paris
High resolution photo

Link to this article:
http://www.pianostreet.com/blog/piano-news/new-chopin-photo-found-8496/


Recommended reading:

The Women Behind Chopin’s Music
Chopin is more popular than football – at least in Warsaw
Chopin’s 200th Anniversary, March 1 2010


/david

  1. Sandra McMillan Says:

    Intresting story. and quite remarkable that the photo had been hanging on the wall without anyone taking notitce…He looks very serious but a warm personality. A great finding for all fans of Chopin and his music!!!

  2. Delma Saunders Says:

    Chopin is my favorite piano composer, but this newly-discovered photo makes me a bit sad–that he looks unhappy and more stern than his music feels and sounds. However, I realize that he did suffer a great deal, physically, as this photo seems to indicate.

  3. Alessandro Giusfredi Says:

    Esattamente come me lo sono da sempre immaginato specialmente dopo il periodo trascorso a Mallorca….

  4. Håkan Nunstedt Says:

    Great to see an authentic photograph not previously found or been officially revealed. Much of Chopin’s music is melancholic traits of deep emotional nature. Probably could Chopin handle his feelings and illness with the help of composing. There is a tremendous emotional depth of Chopin’s compositions (at least I) can not find in any other composer. They are linked this with his life story as it enhances the experiences.

  5. Marvin B Naylor Says:

    Whether or not one likes the photo or not(!), it is, without a doubt, an amazing discovery!

  6. Phil Schoonmaker Says:

    This image, to my eye, conveys the masculinity of an exquisite artistic genius who is too often portrayed as excessively effeminate. One may be dapper, even foppish, yet still manly. Likewise, among women, George Sands proved that dressing like a man in no way diminished her femininity.

  7. Craig Michael Davis Says:

    We all know that Chopin was very ill for the majority of his life. And, listening to, and playing, his music reveals so much depth about the darkness he was traversing through. However, most subjects in 19th Century photos look very grim compared to the heightened and hyper-stylized facade that social media portrays today. Would we still think Chopin was depressed if he would have been smiling in this photograph? I think so. Predominately because a photograph is not as convincing a teacher as his music is.

  8. Milena Says:

    No it doesn’t, because Eugene Delacroix portrayed him very well :)

  9. Francine Geraci Says:

    Remember that taking a daguerrotype required a subject to sit immobile for several minutes. As a result, subjects typically look rigid, or a bit stern… I’m happy to see this long-lost image in any case.

  10. Rachel Fallon Says:

    It’s a remarkable discovery! I love Chopin’s music and it’s very moving to see this impression of him. It seems to convey a little more humanity than others I’ve seen, even though he had to be still for several minutes for it to be taken. I wonder what he was thinking, how he travelled to the studio and what he was going to do later? ……it’s most Intriguing and a very special discovery. I will look more closely at portraits on walls in future!

  11. Лариса (Larisa) Says:

    It seems to me that it is not Chopin, just the person similar to him. Many people have similar. This person is more senior much. Chopin at the end of life was absolutely thin. Sorry.

  12. Chris Says:

    I agree with Larissa. It looks like its been done up with all the romantic qualities we associate with Chopin. It squares off more with painted images of Chopin that with the other well-known photograph.

  13. Daniel Dunn Says:

    In that I had composed a ” Love Story Etude ” structurally similar to
    Etude in C Minor , that I had named ” Love Story Fantasia ” —
    The portrait is interesting to me .
    In reality we just do not know !…. what is important is : what he has
    left behind …. thank you Frederic Chopin for inspiring me !

  14. Jose Antonio Alvarez Uribe Says:

    He looks sad, maybe that was necessary so that the genius within him could create masterpieces I believe that the great masters achieved that majesty through suffering. A great find for all Chopin fans and their music !!!

  15. Sandy Deane Says:

    I have collected every image I can find of Frederic Chopin, generally images focus on the nose and hair!
    His contemporary and friend Eugene de la Croix was a superb portraitist and figurative painter and yet his portrait of Chopin does not seem to attract much acclaim. This recently discovered phptpgraph is incredibly close to de la Croix’s painting – so IMHO at last there is come tangible and credible evidence of the composers appearance – so a real breakthrough!

  16. Ryan Says:

    Just speculation but his illness is most likely the cause of the “long face”, which is taken a toll on his mental health.

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