The Russian Empire in Color (1909-1915) [Vol.1]
Around 1905, Prokudin-Gorsky envisioned
and formulated a plan to use the emerging
technological advances that had been made
in color photography to document the
Russian Empire systematically.
Through such an ambitious project, his
ultimate goal was to educate the school-
children of Russia with his "optical color
projections" of the vast and diverse history,
culture, and modernization of the empire.
Outfitted with a specially equipped railroad-
car darkroom provided by Tsar Nicholas II
and in possession of two permits that
granted him access to restricted areas and
cooperation from the empire's bureaucracy,
Prokudin-Gorsky documented the Russian
Empire around 1909 through 1915.
He conducted many illustrated lectures of
his work. His photographs offer a vivid
portrait of a lost world - the Russian Empire
on the eve of World War I and the coming
Russian Revolution. His subjects ranged
from the medieval churches and monasteries
of old Russia, to the railroads and
factories of an emerging industrial power,
to the daily life and work of Russia's
It has been estimated from Prokudin-Gorsky's
personal inventory that before leaving Russia,
he had about 3500 negatives.
Upon leaving the country and exporting all
his photographic material, about half of the
photos were confiscated by Russian
authorities for containing material that
seemed to be strategically sensitive for
war-time Russia. According to Prokudin-
Gorsky's notes, the photos left behind
were not of interest to the general public.
Some of Prokudin-Gorsky's negatives were
given away, and some he hid on his
departure. Outside the Library of Congress
collection, none has yet been found.
By Prokudin-Gorsky's death, the tsar and
his family had long since been executed
during the Russian Revolution, and
Communist rule had been established over
what was once the Russian Empire.
The surviving boxes of photo albums and
fragile glass plates the negatives were
recorded on were finally stored in the
basement of a Parisian apartment building,
and the family was worried about them
The United States Library of Congress
purchased the material from Prokudin-
Gorsky's heirs in 1948 for $3500–$5000
on the initiative of a researcher inquiring
into their whereabouts.
The library counted 1902 negatives and 710
album prints without corresponding negatives
in the collection.
source for the text: wikipedia
There is an interesting Russian documentary about Prokudin-Gorsky's photos:
This is the 1st of 5 sets of
Prokudin-Gorsky's photos in the
This list presents the North of the
Russian Empire with the following regions:
Republic of Karelia, Leningrad Oblast,
Belozersk, Vytegra, Vologda, Rostow,
Yaroslawl, Tver, Rzhev.
The named districts (raion) and provinces
(oblast) in the descriptions of every photo
correspond to today's borders. So it's
easier to find these locations on a map.
More lists of this collection:
The Central and West of the Russian Empire
The East of the Russian Empire
The South of the Russian Empire
The South-East of the Russian Empire