Alexander Roinashvili


More than hundred years passed after the death of A. Roinashvili. His contemporaries knew well the value of a person their society was missing. In the magazine "Iveria" I. Chavchavadze was writing the following:

"A. Roinashvili passed away. His country and his nation lost a man, who lived with the fortune and misfortune of his country, shared it's fate and for him there was no other anxiety above this."

Those words were said about the peasant boy from Dusheti who at the beginning of 60-th moved to Tiflis. He strated taking up photography in the studio of T. Khlamov, in artistic atmosphere of which A. Roinashvili as a painter and a first Georgian professinal photographer was formed.In 1875 he opened his own photostudio in the centre of Tiflis.With photos taken by A. Roinashvili photography reached the houses of Georgian intelligentsia. The walls of their houses were decorated by the photos of historical monuments and famous Georgian public figures taken by him.

A. Roinashvili was in correspondence with the famous historian and archeologist D. Bakhradze with whom he was sharing his plans about estsblishing a mobile museum of Georgian antiques and for which he bought several hundred displays in Dagestan where he worked for several years.

In 1887 A. Roinashvili managed to create a mobile museum and took it in Astrakhan, Saratov and later Pettersburg. Besides the photos depicting Georgian antiques there where also exhibited old arms, silver and steel dishes, numismatic collection and other Georgian and Eastern cultural displays. The exhibition has a huge success that gave him a push to think about taking those displays to foreign countries. This idea was unfulfilled.

A.Roinashvili was one of the initiators to establish Tiflis Amateur photographers society, foundation meeting of which was held in A. Roinashvili studio in April 1893.A. Roinashvili was a member of every functioning cultural and public organization.Was printing publicistic articles, helding theatrical rehearsals in his studio,sending books to shools and libraries in villages for free. He was hurring to do as much as possible. He passed away at the age of 52.

His funeral had a hue of festivity. Teacher of a noble school mister Ivan Ratishvili said the farewell word and metioned Roinashvili's studio as one of the centers of Georgian cultural life: "Whole galaxy of Georgian youth was trained there. You were the trainer yourself, you cared with your whole heart to prepare them for life and show the right and decent path of work. Now, this youth is lamenting over your coffin and doesn't know how to continue the meritable work began by you" ("Iveria", 1898, May 16, 101).

The fate of Roinashvili's studio and his student's later life showed that not only the youth was concerned about the future.The Society spreading literary in Georgia decided to continue the work of his photo studio with same stuff. Till 1899 Vasil Roinashvili was managing the studio, later he moved to Telavi and took the part of the photography equipments with him. Little later studio was abandon by other collaborators too. Zakaria Labauri, who also took the part of photo equipments withhim opened the studio "Nadzaladevi Photography" just behind the railway station. For a short period of time Alexander Roinashvili's studio was managed by the painter Taras Momtselidze . In 1901 Alexander Mamuchashvili was invited from Baku who was working in the field of photography there. In 1902 he participated in Ekvtime Takaishvili's expedition in southern regions of Georgia. In 1903 Taras Momtselidze returned to studio but died soon. Society obviously couldn't manage governing Roinashvili's studio.

In 1905 Roinashvili's photo studio along with his negatives was given in private property to famous photographer Dimitri Ermakov.

In 1916 D. Ermakov passed away. Ekvtime Takaishvili went to Baku to get some financial aid from Georgian producers who were working there. (Akaki Khoshtaria producer and a philanthropist gave a significant amount money). With this sum, the legacy of D. Ermakov including A. Roinashvili's negatives was bought by Historical-Ethnographic Society and University of Tbilisi.

Alexander Roinashvili is buried in Didube pantheon. On the tombstone of first Georgian professional photographer and a public figure are curved the following words:

To Exemplary Philantropist and a man full of love of his country
Alexander Roinashvili

Giorgi Gersamia

Masters of Photography

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