Sukhumi from the Sea


In 1905 Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled and photographed extensively in the Caucasus region. In 1912, Prokudin-Gorskii returned to photograph the Caucasus region, including in the territory of Georgia and along the coast of the Black Sea. Among the locations he visited was Sukhumi, the major city of Abkhazia, located in the northern part of Georgia. Known to the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines, the area was dominated by the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. The Turks were expelled from Sukhumi in 1810, and the area was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1864. This view from a boat in Sukhum Bay shows the town and Sukhum Hill, also known as Cherniavskii Hill. The hill was named after Vladimir Cherniavskii (1846–1915), a prominent local historian who built a dacha at the bottom of the hill. The photograph is blurred, an effect caused by motion—most likely due to the rocking of the boat during the extended three-stage negative exposure Prokudin-Gorskii used in his photographic process. Despite this damage, the view shows the long seaside embankment and the tall forms of poplar trees. 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

Сухум с моря

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

Last updated: September 28, 2016