Dvinsk. View from Southwest from the Bell Tower of a Military Cathedral


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. Prokudin-Gorskii took this photograph of Dvinsk (present-day Daugavpils, Latvia) in 1912 during his photographic survey of sites associated with Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia. It shows the southwestern part of the city seen from the bell tower of a military cathedral that no longer exists. Founded as a fortress in the 1270s by the Livonian Knights, Dvinsk became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1561. In 1772 it passed to the Russian Empire in the first partition of the Polish Commonwealth. The Russian military had a strong presence in Dvinsk, and cathedrals and churches were built for its use. Dvinsk was part of the Pale of Settlement, to which most of Russia’s Jews were confined, and its population was predominantly Jewish.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

г. Двинск. Вид с юго-востока с колокольни военнаго собора

Additional Subjects

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

Last updated: November 7, 2017