Monday, September 2, 2013

Russian Empire in Color by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

The beginning of the 20th century was marked by amazing scientific discoveries and inventions, many of which were decades ahead of their time. Among them was color photography utilizing the method of color separation, technically very complex, but yielding images of remarkably high quality.

In 1903, one of the pioneers of this method and the first color photographer in Russia was Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944), a representative of an ancient noble family from the Vladimir region.

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. Frequent subjects among the 2,607 distinct images include people, religious architecture, historic sites, industry and agriculture, public works construction, scenes along water and railway transportation routes, and views of villages and cities. The Library of Congress purchased the collection from the photographer's sons in 1948. Here's some of his amazing work:

Peasant girls. [Russian Empire] (LOC)

Two prisoners in shackles (LOC)

Man with camel loaded with packs (LOC)

Work at the Bakalskii mine (LOC)

Haying, near rest time. [Russian Empire] (LOC)

Spinning yarn. In the village of Izvedovo (LOC)

Mullah with his female students near the Artomelinskaia mosque in Artvin (LOC)

Armenian woman in national costume, Artvin (LOC)

Nomadic Kirghiz. Golodnaia Steppe (LOC)

Group of Jewish children with a teacher. Samarkand (LOC)

Group. (Myself with two others, Murman) (LOC)

Emir of Bukhara. Bukhara (LOC)

Full-length profile portrait of a woman, possibly Turkman or Kirgiz, standing on a carpet at the entrance to a yurt, dressed in traditional clothing and jewelry (LOC)

Three generations. A.P. Kalganov with son and granddaughter. The last two work in the shops of the Zlatoust plant (LOC)

Pinkhus Karlinskii. Eighty-four years [old]. Sixty-six years of service. Supervisor of Chernigov floodgate. [Russian Empire] (LOC)

Ostrechiny. Study. [Russian Empire] (LOC)

Mugan. Settler's family. Settlement of Grafovka (LOC)

Fabric merchant. Samarkand (LOC)

Melon vendor. Samarkand (LOC)

Railroad construction on the Shadrinsk-Sinara railroad near the city of Shadrinsk (LOC)

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