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Photography/Follow up questions from Paul


Nick Gogol
Nick Gogol  
Dear David,

Thank you for your reply to my question and I apologize
for not formulating it correctly.
Actually I didn't mean that it is daguerreotype,
but rather that it is paper photo but copied from
This is the photo of very famous Russian writer - Nikolai
Gogol and such a photo (daguerreotype) was used to paint
a very famous portrait of Gogol in 1841 - I am attaching the painting image from #1 Russian museum.
Since it is obvious that the photo was used to produce the painting - hence the photo was created in 1841 or even earlier.

To be honest, for me this photo looks like copy from very old

Also , it looks like the signatures on the photo are original Gogol's signatures, but the problem is that Gogol died in 1852 - could you please advise if such a CDV could exist before 1852.
I read that formally CDV were patented in 1854 , but that doesn't mean probably some prototypes existed before that date.

Thank you very much for your help.

Hello Paul,

Okay, I'm hardly an expert in Russian literature, but now that you've identified the subject, I can say I'm aware that Fyodor Moller supposedly sketched or painted several portrait studies of Gogol while in Rome, and that this most famous portrait may have been based on a painting by Gogol's mother, although (as you've seemed to have learned) it's also been suggested the painting was instead based on a daguerreotype portrait his mother originally possessed.  Since Gogol was a somewhat mercurial character, much of his personal history is based on hearsay rather than hard facts.  Fun stuff to research, but I'll leave that to you.  For my informed and experienced opinion, there is nothing to suggest this CDV was copied from a daguerreotype, but far more likely was simply a photograph of the painting.  That was a VERY common thing to do throughout the first thirty or so years of photography.  There are zillions of mass produced CDV's of paintings of historical figures who either died before the advent of photography or who never sat for photographic portraits after photography became popular.  They're fairly common, and I have a shoe box full of interesting CDV's of paintings of European historical figures.  If the painting was detailed and realistic enough, the much reduced image on the CDV was often very convincing and hard to discern from an original photographic likeness.  In this way, this CDV of Gogol is very typical of the trend.  The general appearance and style of the CDV is definitely early 1860's.  For certain, it could not date from 1852.  I'm not the least bit knowledgeable regarding Gogol's signature, but the scrawl on the bottom of the photograph looks like similar scrawls on MANY of the similar CDV's I've handled over the years.  It was usually not cost effective to formally print the names of the subjects on the mounts (unless it was part of a substantial mass produced set from a major publisher), so the photographers making the CDV's would simply hand write the names.  Finally, if you're wondering if Didier actually had the rights or some legal connection to Gogol, or even direct access to the painting, probably not.  It was a common practice for studio photographers of that period to steal access to whatever viable commercial images they could, and when work was slow they'd rattle off loads of these historical CDV's as cheap and easy money makers.  Okay, as for value, Gogol is an interesting subject with limited visual record, but the condition of the CDV remains poor and Didier is not of any significance.  Subjective market, I would guesstimate a value around $25.

Best wishes,

David F. Silver - President
International Photographic Historical Organization


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David Silver


I'm an expert on all types of antique, classic, and contemporary cameras, as well as the general history of photography. Everything from ancient box cameras to modern single-lens-reflex; from simple Kodaks to sophisticated Leica and Nikon; from glass plates and roll film to movie and 35mm. I can identify and appraise them, explain how they work, and offer insights on their restoration and care. I can also provide historical background on vintage cameras and equipment, and guidelines on their purchase and sale.


I've been a professional photographer and a student of the history of photography for nearly 30 years. During that time my collection of vintage cameras and photographic paraphernalia has grown beyond 2000 significant pieces. I've published nearly 70 articles in the field, including 16 in the popular "Buying Classic Cameras" series for PHOTO SHOPPER MAGAZINE from 1995 to 1997, I'm currently a contributing editor for CAMERA SHOPPER MAGAZINE and McKEOWN'S PRICE GUIDE TO ANTIQUE AND CLASSIC CAMERAS, and I've written numerous entries for WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA. Portions of my collection have been displayed in museums and special exhibits in the past two decades, and many of the items were photographed as illustrations for books. In 1985 I founded the International Photographic Historical Organization (InPHO), which eventually evolved into its intended purpose as the best first resource for information on the history of photography. I'm also a founding member of several e-mail forums dedicated to specialized areas of photography, and I'm the moderator of the Internet Directory of Camera Collectors (IDCC), which remains the largest and most successful such group in the world. For more information about the International Photographic Historical Organization and its many services, please visit its web pages at:

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