View from the Bell Tower of Spaso-Borodinskii Monastery in Borodin, Where Marshal Ney Attacked Bagration's Flanks. Borodino Battlefield


In 1911–12, in connection with the centenary of the 1812 Napoleonic campaign against Russia, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) photographed sites along the invasion route. Foremost among them was the Borodino battlefield, where the Russian and French armies clashed on September 7, 1812. This toward the west, taken from the bell tower of the Savior-Borodino Convent in 1911, shows the terrain across which French forces commanded by Marshal Ney stormed the hastily created fortified points called flèches that had been created to anchor Prince Piotr Bagration’s line on the Russian left flank. The desperate fighting in this area throughout the morning caused thousands of casualties as positions were taken and retaken by the opposing armies. In the foreground are buildings of the Savior-Borodino Convent, which originated in 1833 as a monastic retreat to commemorate the sacrifices and received the status of convent in 1838. 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

Вид с колокольни Спасо-Бородинскаго мон. на местность, где марш. Ней вел атаку на флеши Багратиона. Бородино

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: November 1, 2016