Dvinsk. General View of the Embankment of the Western Dvina River


The town of Dvinsk, located on the Western Dvina River, was founded by the Livonian Order in 1275 as the Dünaburg castle. As a result of the 1772 partition of Poland, the town was absorbed into the Russian Empire and became an important garrison defending the southwestern approaches to Saint Petersburg. In early July 1812 a secondary French force approached the town but was defeated. In 1893 Alexander III renamed the town Dvinsk, and by the time of this photograph it had become a regional industrial center by virtue of its position on the Dvina. In 1920, following the establishment of the state of Latvia, the river assumed its Latvian name, “Daugava,” and the town was renamed Daugavpils (“Daugava Castle”). The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire. In connection with the centenary of the 1812 Napoleonic campaign against Russia, Prokudin-Gorskii in 1911 and 1912 photographed sites along the invasion route, including Dvinsk.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Двинск. Общий вид набережной р. Западной Двины

Additional Subjects

Type of Item

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 http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.

Last updated: December 6, 2013