On the Sim River. Shepherd Boy


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 the summer of 1910 Prokudin-Gorskii traveled along the Samara-Zlatoust Railway, including the Sim River valley. Seen here is a barefoot shepherd boy photographed near the Sim in the vicinity of the town of Miniar (in present-day Chelyabinsk Oblast). Wearing a coat and jaunty cap, the boy has an intent and wary gaze. He is holding a primitive knout consisting of a short rope on a stick. The black patch in the center of the image shows traces of a campfire, with tin cans scattered nearby. The red of the boy’s cap and sweater provides a brilliant contrast to the surrounding grass. On this travels, Prokudin-Gorskii often photographed children, engaging subjects that also illustrated the ethnic diversity of the Russian Empire. This photograph also references the pastoral tradition in art. 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

На р. Сим. Пастушок

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 28, 2016