Most iconic Soviet people captured by Moisei Nappelbaum (PHOTOS)

Moisei Nappelbaum
This photographer revolutionized the art of portrait photography and took the most recognizable portraits of these legendary people.

Moisei Nappelbaum, a jew born in the Imperial Russian city of Minsk, started his career as an apprentice in a local photographic studio. As a result, he learned the technology of taking and printing photos and managed to open two photographic studios - one in Moscow and another in St. Petersburg, right on Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s main street. 

Moisei Nappelbaum

His most iconic photo was taken in 1918 - a portrait of revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin. And throughout the two following decades he took photographs of the most famous people in the Soviet Union, from politicians to poets and movie directors. 

Nappelbaum absolutely changed the way a studio portrait looks. He gave up strict poses and compositions, added a sense of life and used interesting angles. He played with light and shadow and achieved a psychological depth in the images of his models. 

Below are the most iconic portraits taken by Moisei Nappelbaum.


The first Soviet leader, Vladimir Lenin, 1918
Another leader of the Bolshevik Revolution and Stalin’s main competitor, Leon Trotsky, 1921
Lenin’s wife and revolutionary, Nadezhda Krupskaya, 1932
The main chekist, Felix Dzerzhinsky, 1921
Joseph Stalin


Silver-age poet Alexander Blok, 1920
Silver age poet Sergei Yesenin, 1910s
Famous proletarian writer Maxim Gorky
Soviet writer Boris Pasternak, 1926
Legendary female poet Anna Akhmatova, 1922

Theater and cinema people:

Legendary Soviet movie director Sergei Eizenstein, 1930s
Legendary theater director Vsevolod Meyerhold, 1932
Theater director Konstantin Stanislavsky, 1938
Actress Faina Ranevskaya, 1928
Movie director Vsevolod Pudovkin, author of the iconic silent movie ‘Mother’, 1925


Dmitry Shostakovich 
Famous composer Aram Khachaturyan, 1939
Musician and composer Mstislav Rostropovich

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