Old House on the Cliff on the Left Bank of Kura River


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 dramatic landscape and ancient monuments of the mountainous interior of the Caucasus region. His subjects included the capital city of Tbilisi (then called “Tiflis” in Russian). Although settlements on the site had existed much earlier, Tbilisi is considered to have been founded in the 5th century by Vaxtang I, the Georgian ruler of an ancient kingdom known as Iberia. In the 6th century, Tbilisi became the capital of the region. In 1801, the Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti was annexed to the Russian Empire. In 1991 Tbilisi became the capital of an independent Georgia. Seen in this image is a large masonry house perched above a steep cliff on the left bank of the Kura (Mtkvari) River (which runs through the center of Tbilisi). The wooden roof, originally surfaced with tiles, is in a state of disrepair. Other houses and sheds are nestled in crevices along the cliff. Beneath the house to the right, a pipe channels waste water away from the cliff. A path winds down the cliff toward an open space where a boat is tethered at the edge of the muddy river. 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

Старинный дом в скале на левом берегу Куры

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: October 7, 2016