26 March 2019

Palamede Portraits

In last week's post, Le Palamede, I introduced the world's first chess periodical.

All 11 volumes from the two series are available via Google Books, although the last two volumes of the first series are combined into a single PDF file.

The seven volumes of the second series, which started in 1841, were prefaced with portraits of distinguished French players of the period. The first of those volumes was further distinguished by not having a portrait. Edward Winter, in Chess Statues and Sculpture, (chesshistory.com) explained,

C.N. 5176 added that at the start of its 1842 run, in a note entitled 'Portrait', Le Palamède stated that no picture of Labourdonnais had existed and that when the master died Deville took a plaster cast of his head. Marlet then undertook a portrait of Labourdonnais.

No portrait:-

  • 1841 Labourdonnais

The portraits for the following six volumes are shown in the following composite image.

Left to right, top to bottom:-

  • 1842 St.Amant
  • 1843 Philidor
  • 1844 Alexandre (author of the Encyclopedia of Chess)
  • 1845 Calvi (author of a Chess Course)
  • 1846 Philidor's handwriting
  • 1847 Devinck (president of Cercle de Paris)

Philidor and St.Amant are familiar names to students of chess history. The others might be less familiar, but all three are present on Wikipedia:-

The first two Wikipedia articles appear to be based on the corresponding entries in 'The Oxford Companion to Chess'. Calvi's 'Chess Course' ran for five years in Palamède.

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