Bird Cherry Tree


This view is taken from a bridge at the village of Kokovkino near where a stream enters Lake Sterzh in the Ostashkov Region of Tver Oblast. Lake Sterzh is the first of a series of lakes through which the Volga River flows on the first part of its long course to the south. The ancient village of Kokovkino is the largest settlement on Lake Sterzh. This beautifully composed bucolic scene includes birch trees, a grassy meadow, and a flowering bird cherry, on the right. A man, standing in the middle distance, is reflected in the water. 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. In 1910 he visited the region of Tver, an ancient city on the Volga River to the northwest of Moscow. This photograph, misplaced and thus identified only as cheremukha (bird cherry) in Prokudin-Gorskii’s contact albums, shows the origins of the Volga River.

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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