Altar Cross with a Rock Crystal Decoration. A Gift from Emperor Alexander II. 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 battlefield at the village of Borodino, where the Russian and French armies clashed on September 7, 1812. The Church of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God subsequently became a national shrine. Originally dedicated to the Nativity of Christ, the church had a lower altar dedicated to the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God, symbol of divine protection against Russia’s western enemies. After commemorative ceremonies attended by Tsar Nicholas I in August 1839, the Borodino Church was rededicated to the Smolensk Icon. The antique altar cross shown here is ornamented with amethyst and is reputed to have been carried by Crusaders. In December 1842 it was donated to the church by the heir to the throne, Alexander Nikolaevich (Alexander II), who had received it from the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Athanasius V. 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.
Title in Original Language
Запрестольный крест с отделкой из горнаго хрусталя. Дар Императора Александра II. Бородино
Type of Item
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