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Museum Collection

“Anthological” Portrait of Sholokhov

This picture has travelled around many countries of the world, it was published about 150 times, was displayed at the exhibitions in Moscow, Paris, London, Prague, Budapest, Rio de Janeiro. By the 80th anniversary of the writer the portrait had been printed on the post envelope and stamp.

Nikolay Gheorghiyevich Kochnev, the author of the photo, is the well-known photo portraitist. He created a number of portraits of our men of letters, but this famous portrait of Sholokhov is his most interesting work.

Sholokhov is known to dislike posing for the camera. How could N.G. Kochnev make this photograph?

In the article “A Photograph of Sholokhov” published in the “Don” journal in 1995, N.G. Kochnev told: “In the January of 1960, a two-year course of public lectures on photo report at the Central House of Reporters was over. All of us, the participants, were to prepare three large-size photographs for the Diploma work. “If I could catch Sholokhov and take pictures of him”, - I thought then.

Soon I learned that the journal of “Roman-Gazeta” was going to publish the second book of “Virgin Soil Upturned”. I asked the chief of the editorial board Lyudmila Nikiforovna Stebakova “to help in “catching” Sholokhov for taking pictures”.

The work of the photo reporter often depends not only on professionalism, persistence, drive, but also on fortune, luck. This is much spoken about by photo masters, for a picture, possibly the best in life, is just a moment.

Nikolay Gheorghiyevich recollects: “I came early. Set the lights, put a chair… The fellow-workers learned about Sholokhov’s arrival. Everyone wanted to look at him. One of the workers said about a literary critic who was going to write an article about the work of Sholokhov over his novel “Virgin Soil Upturned”. “Why, was he sitting under my table, where from does he know about my working?” – Sholokhov said. All burst out laughing. And I could press twice the bolt of the “Kiev”, when Mikhail Aleksandrovich turned smiling to that worker”.

At that time, in 1960, Mikhail Aleksandrovich lived in Starokonyushennyi Lane. N.G. Kochnev quickly made trial photos and that very evening came to the writer’s house. Sholokhov examined attentively all the photo variants and then chose that very picture saying: “Here I am a real Cossack”.

For his Diploma work N.G. Kochnev made the same portrait and got an excellent mark.

Later many reporters and editors called the portrait classic and “anthological”.