Details of Milan Cathedral


This 1906 photo is of Milan’s great cathedral, Il Duomo di Milano, dedicated to Saint Mary Nascent and seat of the Archbishop of Milan. Begun in 1386, the cathedral—the largest in Italy—was formally completed only in 1965. Its primary style derives from the late French Gothic, with extensive use of flying buttresses. This photograph, taken at the top of the cathedral roof, shows finials (spires) on the south (right) and north sides, with much statuary, as well as figures of saints at the tops of the spires. At the center of this eastern view is the octagonal cupola, or tower, over the main crossing and altar. This flamboyant display of late Gothic tracery was completed only in the early 16thcentury. It serves as the base for the cathedral’s culminating feature, the Madonnina spire (lower part visible here), built in 1762 to a height of almost 110 meters. 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 parts of the empire. Prokudin-Gorskii visited Milan in the summer of 1906.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Детали собора в Милане

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

Last updated: September 23, 2016