These two young men may have been students at a military academy or members of a cadet corps, which was another type of officer-training program. They’re both wearing a military-style tunic with no insignia. It’s also possible the tunic was part of a uniform at an educational institution not connected to the military. I’ll update this page if I find out more.
The two portraits were made by different photographers, but both are cartes-de-visite and both were made in the city of Kursk, in southwestern Russia, near Ukraine. Both have inscriptions on the back dated January 1914. I assume they were given to a friend after an important event such as a graduation.
CDVs fell out of favor by 1900, as faster and easier photographic methods arose, so 1914 is very late for them. I suspect these were made some years earlier. The one above came from the studio of D.A. Abeldyaev (Д.А. Абельдяевъ):
I’ve attempted to read the dedications on both photos. Some key words on the one above eluded me, including the word “patient,” but a visitor to the blog offered assistance (see comment section below). The young man in the portrait seems to be referring to medical training:
To my first patient, dear Se__, as a keepsake from [one who is] grateful for the experience of a Leib – a_____a.
S. Kishkin [С. Кишкинъ]
Remember the 6th of January 1914
8 Jan. 1914
Here’s the second portrait, from the studio of N. Chernyshev (Н. Чернышевъ):
The inscription on the back of this one is easier to read:
I love life because it presents us with the greatest obstacles.
Pavel Mochulsky [Павел Мочульский]
6 / I / 1914
Great obstacles lay ahead for Pavel and his comrades. The First World War would begin six months later, in July 1914, followed by revolution in 1917. In the Russian Civil War (1917-1922), most cadets sided with the monarchy against the communist forces. When their side was defeated, some left the country to spend the rest of their lives in exile abroad.
The two portraits were for sale together in England.
To see additional photographs connected to Russia, click on the “Russia” tag in the lower right corner of any page.