Spaso-Evfrosinevskii Monastery for Women, Three Versts from the City of Polotsk. View from the South


Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph depicts the Spaso-Evfrosinevskii Monastery for women, with the Krestovozdvizhenski Cathedral, built in 1897, in the center. Located near Polotsk in present-day Belarus, the monastery was founded in the 12th century by the Polotsk princess, Evfrosinia, who served as its mother superior for 45 years and to whom the monastery later was dedicated. Polotsk was taken over by the Polish Commonwealth in 1579, and the monastery came under the control of the Roman Catholic Jesuits. In 1772, after the first partition of Poland, Polotsk passed to the Russian Empire. A few years later, the Spaso-Evfrosinevskii Monastery was given back to the Russian Orthodox Church. Despite the turbulent history of the monastery, some of the 12th-century frescos have been preserved.  Local art historians believe that one of the frescoes depicts Evfrosinia herself.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Спасо–Евфросиньевский женск. монастырь в 3–х в. от г. Полоцка. Вид с юга


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Physical Description

Glass negative (presented as a digital color composite)


  • Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographic work survives primarily in two forms: 1,901 black-and-white triple-frame glass plate negatives, made with color separation filters, which Prokudin-Gorskii used to make color prints and lantern slides; and 12 albums of sepia-tone prints, made from the glass negatives, which Prokudin-Gorskii compiled as a record of his travels and studies. The Library of Congress purchased the glass plate negatives and the albums from the Prokudin-Gorskii family in 1948. In 2004, the Library of Congress had digital color composites made from all the surviving glass negatives using a software algorithm to automatically align the color components. As with most historical photographs, title and subject identifications are corrected and enhanced through new research. Current information on the collection is at

Last updated: November 7, 2017