Boundary between Moscow and Smolensk Provinces. Borodino Battlefield
In 1911–12, in connection with the centenary of the 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. Seen in this 1911 photograph are monuments — probably erected in the 18th century — marking the boundary between the Smolensk and Moscow Provinces. The straight, carefully-maintained road borders a state forest of birch and pine trees. A horse is visible at the near turn in the road. After a fierce battle on August 16–18, the Grande Armée under Napoleon Bonaparte took the largely destroyed city of Smolensk and moved toward Moscow, some 240 miles to the east. The vast army would have passed the point seen here by the beginning of September. A gleaned and partially plowed field gives some indication of the heat of later summer during the invasion. 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
Граница Московской и Смоленской губ. 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