August 18, 2009

Color Photos From Russia 1909 to 1915

In 1948 the Library of Congress purchased a collection of color photographs from a photographic survey of Russia made between 1909 and 1912, and again in 1915, by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944).

Photographs from the collection can be viewed on this site. The intro to the project says,
"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."
Like the color photos from World War I mentioned in an earlier post, it's amazing how color makes these people and places seem more real and yet, particularly in these photos by Prokudin-Gorskii, the way he produced his color and the subjects he photographed give many of this pictures a remarkable, otherworldly feel.

Here are a few examples from the collection:
"The Emir of Bukhara, Alim Khan (1880-1944), poses solemnly for his portrait, taken in 1911 shortly after his accession."

"Wooden Chapel on the Site of Old Belozersk"

"Ethnic Russian settlers to the Mugan Steppe region, south of the Caucasus Mountains and west of the Caspian Sea..."

"Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Mozhaisk"

"Workers, identified by Prokudin-Gorskii as Greeks, pose while harvesting tea from plants spreading over rolling hills near Chakva, on the east coast of the Black Sea."

"In a photograph taken near Samarkand, an old man, probably an ethnic Tajik, holds birds he has just caught."

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