Sunset in Gagra
In 1905 Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled and photographed extensively in the Caucasus region. In the spring of 1912, Prokudin-Gorskii returned to photograph in the Caucasus region, including the resort of Gagra in Abkhazia, located in the northern part of Georgia and on the coast of the Black Sea. Much of the Transcaucasian area was dominated by the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. In 1810, the Turks were expelled from the area, but the Russian settlement at Gagra remained isolated and was subject to attack from Circassian warriors. In 1864, Abkhazia was formally annexed by the Russian Empire. At the turn of the 20th century, Prince Aleksandr Olʹdenburgskii invested heavily to develop the area—which had spectacular scenery—into a “Russian Riviera.” In the album of the photographer, the caption for this image states only, “Sunset in Gagra.” However, there is evidence to suggest that the photograph may have actually been taken in the Batumi area. A few small boats bob on the placid surface of the bay, illuminated by a reddish-orange glow as the sun slips below the horizon. Broken clouds further reflect the light. Rather than provide specific information, Prokudin-Gorskii intended for this image to illustrate the vivid color range of his photographic technique. 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.
Title in Original Language
Закат солнца в Гаграх
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