Batum. Japanese Medlar
This photograph, taken in a courtyard in Batumi, Georgia, shows the unusual fruit tree known in Russian as the Japanese mushmula (Eriobotria japonica; also called a medlar, or mespilus). Batumi is the major city of the southern region of Adjara. Located near the border with Turkey, Adjara has a semitropical climate that makes it home to exotic floral varieties that were not found elsewhere in the Russian Empire. Conquered by the Ottomans in 1547, Batumi was taken by Russian and Georgian forces in 1878 and became part of the Russian Empire under the terms of the Treaty of San Stefano. Soon thereafter, the city, with its parks and sea vistas, became known as a resort as well as an important duty-free port. 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 parts of the empire. In 1905 and again in 1910 he traveled to the Caucasus, including the Black Sea coast. Prokudin-Gorskii often photographed plants to demonstrate the ability of his photographic process to capture a range of colors.
Title in Original Language
Батум. Японская мушмула
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