The unknown Tolstoy: Wrote books, rode his bike, took selfies

12,000 photos of Leo Tolstoy and his entourage are exhibited in the State Tolstoy Museum in Moscow.

Tolstoy skating, riding a bike, playing tennis, walking with his granddaughter, riding a horse at his estate Yasnaya Polyana or having a relaxed breakfast on the terrace: 12,000 photos of Leo Tolstoy and his entourage are exhibited in the State Tolstoy Museum in Moscow. // Leo & Sofia Tolstoy with a bike, 1895, Yasnaya Polyana, photo by Sofia Tolstoy
Every picture in the series shows a different facial expression of the writer. In terms of psychological accuracy, some can compete with the best paintings and graphic images of the writer. // Photo from the series by Vladimir Chertkov, Yasnaya Polyana
The collection covers most of his life. When he was young, the art of photography was developing. The earliest photo-portraits of Tolstoy to have survived are daguerreotypes. // Tolstoy, 1861, Brussels, photo by E. Geruzez
As Tolstoy’s popularity grew, so did the number of photos of him. He was photographed by the most famous photo agencies of the time, correspondents of Russian and foreign newspapers and magazines. In 1862 he took a shot of himself  — his first
Most of the photo-portraits of Tolstoy were done at the initiative of Sofia. Her camera recorded important events and everyday life // Tolstoy in a one-horse sleigh, 1903, Yasnaya Polyana. Photo by Sofia Tolstoy
In her photos we can see Leo Tolstoy playing sport and resting with family, guests, and prominent cultural figures. She was also keen on taking photos of their children and grandchildren and their favorite landscapes of Yasnaya Polyana // Leo Tolstoy with his daughter Alexandra, September 1901, Miskhor, Crimea. Photo by Sofia Tolstoy
The prominent part of the museum’s collection consists of pictures taken by Tolstoy’s close friend and editor Vladimir Chertkov. He tried to express the complexity of the writer’s spiritual power.  Chertkov made a series of simultaneous close-up portraits. // Photo from the series by Vladimir Chertkov, Yasnaya Polyana
Among all the literary pieces written by Leo Tolstoy, 174 have been preserved, including unfinished essays and drafts. One might think that to accomplish such amount of work he had to write around the clock. However, Tolstoy’s life was incredibly diverse. // Photo from the series by Vladimir Chertkov, Yasnaya Polyana
In his final years Tolstoy did not like to be photographed and was not fond of the press, considering photography to be a bit of fun for the nobility. Reporters showed great persistence. // Tolstoy playing skittles with Vladimir Chertkov, son of his friend Vladimir Chertkov, in a local Park, May 1909. Photo by T. Tapsel
The exhibition “A Different Tolstoy” runs until 31 December 2015 at the State Tolstoy Museum in Moscow, St. Prechistenka, 11/8 //  Tolstoy skating in the garden, March 1898 Moscow. Photo by Sofia Tolstoy
Instant color cameras appeared towards the end of the writer

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