The educational project “Personalities of the Russian Community Abroad. 1920-1945”

Pierre Choumoff

23.06.2020
Pierre Choumoff

Pierre Choumoff

(1872 – 1936)

A photographer and photo artist. The most eminent Russian photographer in Europe in 1920s-1930s, who made portraits of many Russian and world famous people. He was a personal photographer of great sculptor Auguste Rodin.

He was born in 1872 to a family of a public servant. When he was young he got excited by revolutionary ideas. He entered the St. Petersburg Technological Institute. In summer 1894 he was arrested for the first time with the following seven arrests afterwards. All in all, he spent four years in prison. In 1907 Choumoff and his family left Russia and settled in Paris. In France, in 1911, he established his own photographic studio on Montparnasse and soon afterwards he gained popularity around Paris as a portrait-photographer. That same year he met Auguste Rodin and in 1912-1917 he created a photo chronicle about the sculptor’s life and work during his last years.

Choumoff became famous in Europe thanks to the Grand Prix of the London Photo Salon awarded for his “Portrait of Countess X” and the annual prize from “Photograms of the Year” magazine (1922). Also, his portraits were awarded a bronze medal from the French Photography Association and a gold medal from the World Exhibition in Paris (1925).

In 1920s Choumoff created a gallery with photo portraits of famous Russian people from the culture field, such as Konstantin Balmont, Maximilian Voloshin, Alexander Kuprin, Vladimir Mayakovski, Sergey Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, Alexey Tolstoy, Marina Tsvetayeva, Vladislav Khodassevich, Sasha Cherny, Mark Shagal and Ilya Ehrenburg. Also, Choumoff made photo portraits of political figures, for example general Anton Denikin, Alexander Kerensky, Pavel Milyukov and Peter Struve. Choumoff made photos of foreign famous people, such as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom James MacDonald, artist Claude Monet, writer Anatole France, physicist Albert Einstein and many others.   

Choumoff also invented a special method to create an artwork. The method was later called after his name and presented a photograph on a wooden surface.

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