On the Karolitskhali River


In 1905 Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled and photographed extensively in the Caucasus region. In the spring of 1912 he returned to Georgia, where he photographed the dramatic landscape and architecture found in the mountainous interior as well as resorts along the Black Sea coast. In this bucolic view the photographer is seated beside the small Karolitskhali River, which originates at Chinkadze Mountain and flows some 30 kilometers west through Ach’ara to the Batumi Bay. Located in the southern part of Georgia near the Turkish border, the territory of Ach’ara, including the port of Batumi, was taken by the Russian Empire from the Ottomans in 1878. This widely reproduced photograph was no doubt composed by Prokudin-Gorskii, but the complexity of his long exposure process would have required the camera to be operated by another person in this instance. The hills in the near background have been cleared of trees and appear to be used for grazing. 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

По р. Каролицхали

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