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August 20, 2010

Russia in color, a century ago

With images from southern and central Russia in the news lately due to extensive wildfires, I thought it would be interesting to look back in time with this extraordinary collection of color photographs taken between 1909 and 1912. In those years, photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II. He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images. The high quality of the images, combined with the bright colors, make it difficult for viewers to believe that they are looking 100 years back in time - when these photographs were taken, neither the Russian Revolution nor World War I had yet begun. Collected here are a few of the hundreds of color images made available by the Library of Congress, which purchased the original glass plates back in 1948. (34 photos total)

An Armenian woman in national costume poses for Prokudin-Gorskii on a hillside near Artvin (in present day Turkey), circa 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC)

Self-portrait on the Karolitskhali River, ca. 1910. Prokudin-Gorskii in suit and hat, seated on rock beside the Karolitskhali River, in the Caucasus Mountains near the seaport of Batumi on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Molding of an artistic casting (Kasli Iron Works), 1910. From the album "Views in the Ural Mountains, survey of industrial area, Russian Empire". Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A woman is seated in a calm spot on the Sim River, part of the Volga watershed in 1910. (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A chapel sits on the site where the city of Belozersk was founded in ancient times, photographed in 1909. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

View of Tiflis (Tblisi), Georgia from the grounds of Saint David Church, ca. 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm (Khiva, now a part of modern Uzbekistan), full-length portrait, seated outdoors, ca. 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A closer detail view of Isfandiyar, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm. This photo would have been taken near the start of his reign in 1910, when he was 39 years old. He ruled Khorezm until his death in 1918. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

On the Sim River, a shepherd boy. Photo taken in 1910, from the album "Views in the Ural Mountains, survey of industrial area, Russian Empire". (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Alternators made in Budapest, Hungary, in the power generating hall of a hydroelectric station in Iolotan (Eloten), Turkmenistan, on the Murghab River, ca. 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A Georgian woman poses for a photograph, ca. 1910. (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A group of women in Dagestan, ca. 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

General view of Artvin (now in Turkey) from the small town of Svet, ca. 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Pinkhus Karlinskii, eighty-four years old with sixty-six years of service. Supervisor of Chernigov floodgate, part of the Mariinskii Canal system. Photo taken in 1909. (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

General view of the Nikolaevskii Cathedral from southwest in Mozhaisk in 1911. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A group of Jewish children with a teacher in Samarkand, (in modern Uzbekistan), ca. 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A switch operator poses on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, near the town of Ust Katav on the Yuryuzan River in 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Cornflowers in a field of rye, 1909. From the album "Views along the Mariinskii Canal and river system, Russian Empire". (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Laying concrete for the dam's sluice, 1912. Workers and supervisors pose for a photograph amid preparations for pouring cement for sluice dam foundation across the Oka River near Beloomut. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Sart woman in purdah in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, ca. 1910. Until the Russian revolution of 1917, "Sart" was the name for Uzbeks living in Kazakhstan. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

General view of the wharf at Mezhevaya Utka, 1912. (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Peasants harvesting hay in 1909. From the album "Views along the Mariinskii Canal and river system, Russian Empire". (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Prokudin-Gorskii rides along on a handcar outside Petrozavodsk on the Murmansk railway along Lake Onega near Petrozavodsk in 1910. (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A water-carrier in Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan), ca. 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A dog rests on the shore of Lake Lindozero in 1910. From the album "Views along the Murmansk Railway, Russian Empire". Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Factory in Kyn, Russia, belonging to Count S.A. Stroganov, 1912. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Russian children sit on the side of a hill near a church and bell tower near White Lake, in Russia, 1909. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Emir Seyyid Mir Mohammed Alim Khan, the Emir of Bukhara, seated holding a sword in Bukhara, (present-day Uzbekistan), ca. 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A boy leans on a wooden gatepost in 1910. From the album "Views in the Ural Mountains, survey of industrial area, Russian Empire". (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A metal truss bridge on stone piers, part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, crossing the Kama River near Perm, Ural Mountains Region, ca. 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

Nomadic Kirghiz on the Golodnaia Steppe in present-day Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, ca. 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A man and woman pose in Dagestan, ca. 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A general view of Sukhumi, Abkhazia and its bay, seen sometime around 1910 from Cherniavskii Mountain. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

A boy sits in the court of Tillia-Kari mosque in Samarkand, present-day Uzbekistan, ca. 1910. Google Map, (Prokudin-Gorskii Collection/LOC) #

 
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