Chapel in the Village of Topornia. Russian Empire


This 1909 photograph shows a wooden chapel in the village of Topornia with a veranda and, on the west, a small porch supporting a bell cote. The chapel, which no longer exists, was surrounded by a picket fence. In the background is a typical northern izba (log house). The Mariinskii Canal system (now known as the Volga-Baltic Waterway) links Saint Petersburg with the Volga River basin. A major component of the waterway is White Lake, which is drained at its southeastern part by the Sheksna River, a tributary of the Volga. At the village of Topornia, Vologda Oblast, the Sheksna is met by another canal system, branching northeast to the Northern Dvina River and the port of Arkhangelsk. The initial link of the Nothern Dvina Waterway is the seven-kilometer long Topornia Canal, which connects the Sheksna with Sivers Lake at the town of Kirillov. 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Часовня в деревне Топорня. [Российская империя]

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