Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849)
Marcin Olszyński, photograph of an oil portrait by Ary Scheffer from 1847, taken in 1862, 87 x 51.
Collection: Muzeum Fryderyka Chopina, Warsaw [M/1528].
Chopin recalls posing for this portrait in letters to his family in Warsaw: ‘[Paris], commenced a week [before Easter, 28 March], completed 19 April  […] I’m sitting down to this letter for the 4th time today, 16th April, and I don’t know if I’ll finish it yet, as today I have to go to Scheffer to pose for my portrait’ [Sydow, ii, 193]; ‘[Paris], 8 June 47 […] Yesterday I posed again at Scheffer’s, the portrait is coming along’ [Sydow, ii, 206].
Today, this photograph of Ary Scheffer’s oil portrait is the only extant visual evidence of this wonderful work of art. It was taken a year before the original was destroyed, when it was presented in a painting exhibition at the residence of Maurycy Potocki in Warsaw. On 19 September 1863, imperial soldiers, in retaliation for an attack on Teodor Berg, the Russian general and the tsar’s governor in the Kingdom of Poland, destroyed the picture together with the collection of the composer’s sister, Izabela Barcińska, when plundering the residence of Andrzej Zamoyski on ul. Nowy Świat.