Our Notes & References
A lovely group of photographs, showing Northern indigenous peoples and local trades by one of the main photographers of the Russian North.
Iakob Leitsinger (1855-1914) was born in the small village of Spasskoe in Vologda province into a family of cheesemakers from Switzerland. Orphaned at an early age, he became an apprentice in a local photo studio and in 1880, moved to Arkhangelsk where he opened his own atelier. In 1895 and then in the early 1900s, he joined expeditions through the remote areas of Arkhangelsk Province, along the Kola Peninsula to Novaya Zemlya and later to the Solovetsky archipelago. Leitsinger’s photographs were published in Arkhangelsk and Moscow as postcards and were even reprinted by some foreign companies; his views of the Solovetsky archipelago made their way into the the library of Tsar Nicholas II.
Leitsinger also became the city mayor in 1903 and implemented useful innovative policies through his four mayoral terms until his death in 1914.
These 15 photographs of rather large size include a fine portrait of a Samoyed family with a reindeer and sleighs in front of their huts, as well as a Samoyed herder with his dogs in Novaya Zemlya. Other photographs feature Arkhangelsk’s active port, with various boats and workers inspecting thousands of barrels. The city itself is also represented, with its busy river and streets, in summer like in winter: from residents resting by the shore to a row of horse-driven sleighs on the snow in front of Arkhangelsk main cathedral, destroyed in 1929. Some images show the region of Arkhangelsk and the White Sea, with Norwegian sailors posing in a port on a “Popov Island”, or the celebrated Solovetsky islands, a future Soviet GULAG camp. One of the latter views is actually by Cherepanov, featuring the altar of the monastery’s main cathedral before its destruction after the Revolution.
Bibliography Engelgart, A. P. Russkii Sever: Putevye zametki. Peterburg, 1897.Fotograf Iakov Leitsinger. // Muzei Rossiiskoi fotografii (online)Iakov Leitsinger. Liudi zemli Arkhangelskoi. Arkhangelskaia gorodskaia biblioteka im. Dobroliubova. Elena Barkhanova, Russkaia Svetopis. Pervii vek fotoiskusstva 1839-1914. Alians, 2009.