Gospel Belonging to the Nun Varsanofiia, the Tsarevnas' Governess. Trinity Monastery, Aleksandrov


From 1909 to 1912, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) made several trips to the territory around the Ural Mountains, where he photographed railroad installations, factories, urban settings, and natural scenes. In 1911 Prokudin-Gorskii visited the town of Aleksandrov, northeast of Moscow in Vladimir province. Settled by the 14th century, the village was deeded by Grand Duke Ivan III in 1504 to his son Vasily. After his accession to the Muscovite throne in 1505, Vasily III converted the site, known as Aleksandrova Sloboda, into a hunting estate in 1509–16. It acquired grim renown during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, who in the late 1560s made the fortified site the center of his harsh rule. In 1651 the compound was converted to use as the Intercession Convent, which had close ties with the Romanov ruling family, particularly during the reign of Aleksei Mikhailovich. Prokudin-Gorskii photographed a number of sacred objects at the convent, including this magnificent edition of the Gospels that belonged to the nun Varsanofiia, tutor to the grand duchesses. The gold leaf cover depicts Christ enthroned, with the four evangelists in the corners. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of his 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Евангелие няни Царевен Монахини Варсанофии. [Троицкий монастырь, Александров]

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 23, 2016