In the archives of...
his death bed ?
The Agency France-Presse in Warsaw has announced the acquisition by a Polish collector of a Daguerreotype dated in 1849, portraying Frédéric Chopin on his death bed. This information, that must be treated with prudence, reminds us of many kinds of claims that cannot be confirmed or that are even simple hoaxes. In this case, it might be plausible. We know in fact that the current owner of the daguerreotype Wladyslaw Zuchowski had found this daguerreotype in Scotland before having it restored in London. We also know that Jane Sterling, his student and admirer was Scottish. She might have asked Louis-Auguste Bisson, the author of the daguerreotype to take the snapshot. The picture could have been taken in the Church of the Madeleine where the corpse had rested before the funeral in Père Lachaise. But even if everything seems to fit, there are still some shady and grey areas in spite of – or maybe because of – the certainty shown by its owner that states, according to the information by AFP, that this 8 × 7cm daguerreotype would be the only authentic version, “the other known images from the composer were nothing but copies”! The Polish collector believes that other daguerreotypes portraying Chopin do exist. If he confirms that it is not for sale, he plans to exhibit the picture in his Gallery in Gdansk that possesses already many hundreds of daguerreotypes. And perhaps elsewhere, if we ask him.
Correspondant for the French Institute