Icon of the Mother of God of Smolensk, Belonging to Bagration. Borodino


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. Shown here is the Icon of the Smolensk Mother of God that belonged to Prince Piotr Bagration, commander of the Second Western Army of the Russian forces. Mortally wounded at Borodino, Bagration was buried at the estate of Prince Boris Golitsyn in the village of Sima (Vladimir Province). In 1839, his remains were reinterred in the shadow of the main battlefield monument, a 27-meter-high obelisk dedicated in the presence of Tsar Nicholas I in July 1839. At that time, the icon was transferred to the Borodino church, originally dedicated to the Nativity of Christ and rededicated to the Smolensk Icon. The icon conforms to the Hodegetria iconic depiction of Mary and the Christ Child. On either side are the Smolensk saints Avramii and Merkurii. 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

Икона Смоленской Божьей Матери, принадлежавшая Багратиону. 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 http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.

Last updated: November 1, 2016