Maxim Gorky (Alexei Maximovich Peshkov, 1868-1936)
Early photograph inscribed to Leonid Andreev. 1898
Cabinet photograph signed ('M. Gorky' on mount and 'A. Peshkov' on verso) and inscribed (on verso) to Leonid Nikolaievich [Andreev], n.p. [Nizhni Novgorod], n.d. [c.1898].

The image by M. Duumpiebr, Nizhni Novgorod, 141 x 105mm, mount 162 x 109mm. Inscribed in Russian on the verso.

A biblical quotation and a promise of a drinking session. 'As a reply to your soulful letter, I recall here the wisest words known to me: "fear does not beget grief, nor does a ground give rise to misfortune, but man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward". This is said by Job, chapter 5, verses 6-7. / Good book, I recommend it; it contains a sea of wisdom. As for getting stumbling drunk with you – I will, for it is not only a delight for me, but also a duty'.

Gorky was a crucial influence in the early career of the Expressionist author and playwright Leonid Andreev (1871-1919), recognising his talent after reading his earliest published story, 'Bargamot and Garaska' in the Moscow Kurier in 1898, at a time when Andreev was working as a police-court reporter. Gorky's encouragement, which included introducing Andreev to the 'Sreda' literary group and publishing his works in his Znanie collections, was directly responsible for Andreev devoting himself fully to his literary career, and with the publication of his first collection in 1901 he swiftly became a literary star. Only two inscribed photographs from Gorky to Andreev are known, and the present photograph, with its extraordinary inscription combining biblical quotation with a promise of drunken revelry, is undoubtedly the earlier of the two, marking the beginnings of this pivotal literary relationship.
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