Our Notes & References
The great actor and director at the height of his powers, finely inscribed.
A fine cabinet photograph of Konstantin Stanislavskii (born Alekseev, 1863-1938), the great actor and director, who revolutionised modern theatre in a series of innovative productions at the Moscow Arts Theatre in the pre-war years, developing his famous ‘system’. The recipient, Andrei Pavlovich Petrovskii (1869-1933) was a fellow actor and director.
The image can be dated by comparison with another surviving portrait by Sherer, Nabholz from the same sitting, in the same suit and tie, with the same distinguished moustache and wave of white hair, but facing the other way and slightly more forwards. We could trace an example of this other portrait, inscribed to Aleksandra Sergeevna Kiseleva, and dated 4 January 1911.
By 1911, Stanislavskii had already achieved world-wide fame. In 1898, he co-directed with Nemirovich the first of his productions of Chekhov: the MAT production of The Seagull has been described as “one of the greatest events in the history of Russian theatre and one of the greatest new developments in the history of world drama” (Rudnitsky 1981, 8). Stanislavskii went on to direct the successful premières of Chekhov’s other major plays: Uncle Vanya in 1899 (in which he played Astrov), Three Sisters in 1901 (playing Vershinin), and The Cherry Orchard in 1904 (playing Gaev). In 1906 the MAT toured Europe. In 1910 Stanislavskii started working on his production of Hamlet (in collaboration with Edward Gordon Craig). However, in August 1910 he was diagnosed with typhoid fever, and was unable to return to rehearsals until April 1911. The play finally opened on 5 January 1912.
Martin Scherer (d. 1883) was a prominent Russian photographer of German descent; he created the first photographic panorama of Moscow in 1867. In the same year he and his partner, Swiss-born Georgii Nabholz, rented their studio out to the German photographer Albert Mei (Альберт Мей, 1842 — 1913), who led the studio to new successes. Among the studio’s clients were prominent actors, artists, composers, and writers, including Leo Tolstoy. In 1911 the studio’s address was Kuznetskii pereulok, near Kuznetskii Bridge, 3, where it remained until 1917.
Konstantin Ginsburg, New York (who collected an important collection of autographs and letter from Russian literary personalities).
Rudnitsky, Konstantin. 1981. Meyerhold the Director. Trans. George Petrov. Ed. Sydney Schultze. Revised translation of Rezhisser Meierkhol’d. Moscow: Academy of Sciences, 1969.