Testing Field of the Ministry of Agriculture and State Property. Golodnaia Steppe


One of the main initiators of development in Russian Turkestan was Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Tsar Nicholas I. Exiled from Saint Petersburg in 1874 because of a family scandal, Nicholas settled in Tashkent in 1881, where he sponsored philanthropic and entrepreneurial projects. Foremost among them was a model agricultural estate that involved a vast irrigation scheme in Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe”). The long-term goal of the project was to provide arable land to Russian settlers and make Golodnaia Steppe a productive area for raising cotton and wheat. Seen here is a field planted with fruit trees. In the background is a large two-story house for the management of the experimental station. 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 1911 his travels took him to Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), which appealed to him as a showcase for the transformation brought about by Russian settlement.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Опытное поле Министерства Земледелия и Государственных Имуществ. Голодная степь

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: September 30, 2016