Flowering Plants


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 the Caucasus region and along the coast of the Black Sea, including in the area of Abkhazia, located in the northern part of Georgia. Much of the Transcaucasian area was dominated by the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. The Turks were expelled from the Sukhumi, the major city in Abkhazia, in 1810, and the area was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1864. To the northwest of Sukhumi was the ancient settlement of Anacopia near the Psyrtskha River. In 1874, a group of monks arrived here from the Saint Panteleimon Monastery, the Russian part of the monastic complex at Mount Athos in Greece. Work soon began on the New Athos Monastery, dedicated to Saint Simon Cananeus. Although interrupted by a brief Turkish occupation in 1878 during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, construction was largely completed in the late 1890s. At the beginning of the 20th century, the monastery had its own vineyards and gardens. Visible here is a plot of herbs indicating the area’s semi-tropical climate. In documenting the local environment, Prokudin-Gorskii often photographed flora. 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.

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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: November 1, 2016