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. Among the towns Prokudin-Gorskii visited in 1909 was Kyshtym (in present-day Chelyabinsk Oblast), a settlement linked to an ironworking factory founded in 1757 by Nikita Demidov. Harsh working conditions at this factory contributed to periodic outbreaks of violence that swept over the region, most notably the Pugachev Rebellion (1774–76). When Prokudin-Gorskii visited in 1909, the Upper Kyshtym Factory was still one of the largest in the Urals. This attractive view of tall pines is identified simply as a “forest.” It is likely in the vicinity of a suburban area and park on the edge of Kyshtym known as Near Dacha. Pine forests were especially valued in Russia, not only as an important resource, but because they were believed to purify the air and have healthful qualities for people with lung disorders such as tuberculosis. Prokudin-Gorskii often took shots of nature, both as a record of the environment surrounding the sites that he photographed and as a demonstration of the range afforded by his special three-color photography process. Using this process, he created 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.
Title in Original Language
Type of Item
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 28, 2016