Photographic portrait in Georgia.


Early works of Georgian portraiture dates back to XVIII century. Customers were the representatives of high nobility, secular as wellas spiritual aristocracy. In the middle of XIX century merchants and functionaries were joined to their number.

With the appearance of first daguerreotypes in fourties of XIX century by Verner, Tashere, Gaupt and Alexandrovsky and the increasing number of photo-studios in Georgia left the portrait-painters without orders. Some of them started to collaborate with photographers as retouchers, were painting portraits from photographs, others were colouring photos. Famous portrait-painter, "Georgian Raphael" Akop Ovnatanian left Tiflis and moved to Persia. In 1868, he submitted an application to the Counsil of Caucasus asking for a permission to enter upon the duties of His Highness Shah of Persia.

"Spreading the photography in Russia made me believe that unfortunately it's impossible to be well off in Russia even with the talent that I have".

Portrait photography was a profitable business thanks to it's popularization and affordability, it became fashionable to exchange photos. During the post-daguerreotypic period in Tiflis were successfully working following photographers: A. Okulovsky, S. Moritz, A. Sanovich, A. Makarovich, M. Levitess, Orlay de Karva, E. Vestly, Arutiun Shakhbazian (Artiur) and others. In Kutaisi were working Ia. Goldenfan, I. Vasilevsky, V. Barkanov. New portrait studios were opening in other towns too.

Technical difficulties were gradually overcome; the exposure was lessening, the quality of portrait objective lenses were ameliorating. Photographers succeeded to take photos of high artistic quality with utilization of soft illumination and freely choosing the backgrounds and poses.

Georgian photographers left a huge collection of portraits of public figures, writers, artists and representatives of different social strata.

Giorgi Gersamia

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