Borodino's Church. (The Cupola Has a Hole). Borodino


On September 7, 1812, during the invasion of Russia by Emperor Napoleon I of France, Russian and French armies clashed on the Borodino battlefield, situated to the west of Moscow. Overlooking one part of the battlefield was the Church of the Nativity of Christ, an elevated brick structure built in 1697–1701. The ornamental design includes an octagonal bell tower in the west, and a larger octahedron under the main dome in the east. The domes culminate in high decorative crosses. The church also had a lower altar, dedicated to the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God, which in 1839 became the primary dedication of the church. This icon was revered as a protector against Russia’s enemies from the west. The caption notes traces of artillery damage, which can be seen on the surface of the main dome. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s 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 parts of the empire. In connection with the centenary of the 1812 Napoleonic campaign against Russia, Prokudin-Gorskii photographed sites along the invasion route in 1911 and 1912.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Бородинская церковь. (На куполе пробоина). 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: September 23, 2016