Vessels and Vozdukhi Sacramental Cloth Cover. A Gift from Alexander II to Borodino's Church. 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. Shown here are the church’s gold-plated sacramental vessels, including an ornamented chalice for the wine and plates for the wafers. The chalice displays enamel medallions depicting the Passion of Christ, while the base of the stem is supported by crouching lions. The vessels rest on a brocaded sacramental cloth cover (vozdukh) formed of a colored silk base embossed with gold and silver threads. The cover was donated in May 1847 by the heir to the throne, Alexander Nikolaevich (Alexander II). The velvet flowers on the silver brocade are reputed to have been sewn by his wife, Tsarevna Maria Aleksandrovna. 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

Сосуды и воздухи. Дар Императора Александра II Бородинской церкви. 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