Tuesday, 17 January 2017


Newly discovered photograph of Frédéric Chopin
The Institut Polonais in Paris has announced the exciting arrival of a c.1847 daguerreotype featuring the likeness of famed 19th century Polish Romantic composer Frédéric Chopin, which was recently discovered by Swiss physicist and “Chopin connoisseur” Alain Kohler in what the Institute’s website claims was a “private home.”

The photograph – only one of three known live portraits of the composer in existence – displays a pensive – perhaps even somber–looking Chopin, and is believed to have been captured at the studio of French photographer Louis-Auguste Bisson, the very same cameraman who shot the iconic seated (and weathered-looking) portrait of the composer [fig. II] in 1849, just months shy of Chopin’s death in October of that year to what physicians at the time believed was consumption (tuberculosis) - a diagnosis and cause of death that has since been ruled inconclusive. The newly discovered portrait was authenticated as a true likeness of the composer following what the Institute describes as a “thorough investigation,” one which was co-headed by musician Gilles Bencimon of Radio France International.

According to the Institute’s newsfeed, the historic discovery of a previously unknown artifact by Kohler was not an isolated incident. The scientist is lauded with discovering, in 2015, a grand piano in Germany, which, coincidentally, is also linked to Chopin - and on which the composer himself had performed (the Pleyel Grand Piano no 11265), and the very instrument on which Chopin used to teach his aristocratic students from the confines of his living room in apt #9, 80 rue Taitbout, at Paris’ Square d'Orléans during the winter-spring stretch in 1844/45. It is believed Chopin may have worked on preliminary sketches for his Sonata for cello and piano, his 65th opus, on the instrument.

View the now three-strong photographs of Chopin below: 

Further reading (external links):

Chopin's Sonata for Cello in Piano in G Minor, Op. 65,  movement III (Largo); Jacqueline du Pré /Daniel Barenboim:

Did You Know?
A (different) third photograph (alleged), said to showcase the likeness of Chopin in post-mortem repose, “surfaced” in March 2011 courtesy of Polish photographer and collector Wladyslaw Zuchowski, who claimed to have purchased the daguerreotype from the hands of a private collector in Scotland in December of that year.

According to Zuchowski, the funereal photo, which the photographer believes was shot just moments after the composer’s untimely demise at age 39 in Paris, bears an imprint of the year 1849 – the year of Chopin’s death – and the name of the aforementioned photographer Louis-Auguste Bisson.

Zuchowski’s claim of possessing what would have been the third known live capture of the composer in existence was largely debunked by photography/Chopin experts and curators later that year.

View the purported photo, and read more about the ill-fated ‘discovery’ here (external link).


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