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Photographer To The Tsar

Professor Dumbledore and family at the Zlatoust arms plant.

Believe it or not, this color photograph was shot in 1910. It's one of over 2,600 images captured by Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii between 1905 and 1915 that are now part of the Library of Congress collection.

Raw color separationMany of Prokudin-Gorskii's photos were captured as three-color B&W separations, allowing them to be reproduced a century later as surprisingly high quality digital color images. The result is an eerily formal depiction of the Russian Empire in the bittersweet years leading up to World War I and the October Revolution.

The Library of Congress explains how this priceless collection made its way to the United States:

"The photographs of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) offer a vivid portrait of a lost world--the Russian Empire on the eve of World War I and the coming 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 diverse population.

In the early 1900s Prokudin-Gorskii formulated an ambitious plan for a photographic survey of the Russian Empire that won the support of Tsar Nicholas II. Between 1909-1912, and again in 1915, he completed surveys of eleven regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation.

Prokudin-Gorskii left Russia in 1918, going first to Norway and England before settling in France. By then, the tsar and his family had been murdered and the empire that Prokudin-Gorskii so carefully documented had been destroyed. His unique images of Russia on the eve of revolution--recorded on glass plates--were purchased by the Library of Congress in 1948 from his heirs."

The Empire That Was Russia [LoC]

Browse The Prokudin-Gorskii Collection

Head Study

Head Study (between 1905-1915)

  Kasli

View of Kasli, 1910

Settlers

Mugan. Settler's family. Settlement of Grafovka (between 1905-1915)

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