Russia: The Empire that was - 200yr old colour photos!!!!
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. For this exhibition, the glass plates have been scanned and, through an innovative process known as digichromatography, brilliant color images have been produced. This exhibition features a sampling of Prokudin-Gorskii's historic images produced through the new process; the digital technology that makes these superior color prints possible; and celebrates the fact that for the first time many of these wonderful images are available to the public.
Born in Murom, Vladimir Province, Russia (originally believed to be St. Petersburg) in 1863 and educated as a chemist, Prokudin-Gorskii devoted his career to the advancement of photography. He studied with renowned scientists in St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Paris. His own original research yielded patents for producing color film slides and for projecting color motion pictures. Around 1907 Prokudin-Gorskii envisioned and formulated a plan to use the emerging technological advancements that had been made in color photography to systematically document the Russian Empire. Through such an ambitious project, his ultimate goal was to educate the schoolchildren 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-Gorskii documented the Russian Empire around 1907 through 1915. He conducted many illustrated lectures of his work. Prokudin-Gorskii left Russia in 1918, after the Russian Revolution, and eventually settled in Paris, where he died in 1944.
Interesting site, thank you for the post
I agree , this is an example of a good post, the link is definately bookmarked , thankyou
I had seen this before, but I couldn't remember where. Thanks for bringing it up again.
The photos are only 100 years old though. It's still impressive, but I got excited at the thought that somebody had a color process before the first black and white images.
Good Evening, Nexus,
The old Russian photos are fascinating. There was a book of them published back about twenty(?) years ago. I remember selecting it for our high school library; I believe it's called "Photographs for the Tsar" or something similar. It was published in both hardback and paperback. I suspect it wouldn't be too hard to locate.
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Interesting to me that interest was re-kindled by the very computer generated process that is shunned here on the analog site. Fact is that no one had much success trying to re-combine the tri color filtered negs to make a color positive until computers came along. I have been fascinated many times by these photographs.
Russia: The Empire that was
Jim, Thanks for the info on the Russian Empire site
I really enjoyed it and will mark it.
Dave Wooten-Las Vegas
I bought the hardback version of this book when it came out in 1980. You are correct about the title. It is a large format book and was published by Sidgwick & Jackson in the UK and by the Dial Press in the US.
Originally Posted by Konical
Although the quality of the colour photos varies immensely (& many of the book's photos are printed in monochrome) it is absolutely fascinating to see pictures taken in the early 1900's in colour. We are so used to seeing photos of that era in B&W that one ends up thinking that the world itself was in B&W when of course it wasn't.
While on the subject of historic colour photos, I was lucky to buy a book some years back containing colour photos taken by US service personnel stationed in the UK in the second world war. Colour photos of the UK from that period are extremely rare, mainly because colour film was expensive & during the war almost unobtainable in the UK. However the Americans had access to Kodachrome etc so the book is amazing for its photographs not just of London, but all round the country.
These are the only two books devoted to pre-1950's colour photographs I have ever come across, though maybe there are others.
no worries, people. i saw the links in someone's livejournal and did a quick search here to see if anyone heard about it, when i didn't see it, i just had to make a thread for everyone.
i stand corrected about the 100years...that was an oversight on my part because i was excited.
whoever posted the comment about seeing the world in blackand white is so true! its almost surreal to see old colour photos! imagine what people will say about our photos in colour in 100 years time!
When I was a child not only I believed that, but I also firmly believed that men used to walk faster (after seeing the the movies from the early XX century...)
Originally Posted by Brac
Very interesting link, nexus. Thanks for posting it.