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 NappelbaumArchive photo
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, 1918Moisei Nappelbaum
Another leader of the Bolshevik Revolution and Stalin’s main competitor, Leon Trotsky, 1921Moisei Nappelbaum
Lenin’s wife and revolutionary, Nadezhda Krupskaya, 1932Moisei Nappelbaum
The main chekist, Felix Dzerzhinsky, 1921Moisei Nappelbaum
Joseph StalinMoisei Nappelbaum
Silver-age poet Alexander Blok, 1920Moisei Nappelbaum
Silver age poet Sergei Yesenin, 1910sMoisei Nappelbaum
Famous proletarian writer Maxim GorkyMoisei Nappelbaum
Soviet writer Boris Pasternak, 1926Moisei Nappelbaum
Legendary female poet Anna Akhmatova, 1922Moisei Nappelbaum
Legendary Soviet movie director Sergei Eizenstein, 1930sMoisei Nappelbaum
Legendary theater director Vsevolod Meyerhold, 1932Moisei Nappelbaum
Theater director Konstantin Stanislavsky, 1938Moisei Nappelbaum
Actress Faina Ranevskaya, 1928Moisei Nappelbaum
Movie director Vsevolod Pudovkin, author of the iconic silent movie ‘Mother’, 1925Moisei Nappelbaum
Dmitry ShostakovichMoisei Nappelbaum
Famous composer Aram Khachaturyan, 1939Moisei Nappelbaum
Musician and composer Mstislav RostropovichMoisei Nappelbaum
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