Smolensk. Monument to 1812


In 1911 and 1912, in connection with the centenary of the 1812 Napoleonic campaign against Russia, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) photographed sites associated with events along the invasion route. Prominent among them was the ancient city of Smolensk, which endured an attack in August 1812 that led to the destruction of most of the city by fire. The 1812 conflict was commemorated at several Russian battle sites through a series of iron monuments commissioned by Tsar Nicholas I in 1835 and designed by the Saint Petersburg architect Antonio Adamini. The Smolensk monument, crowned with an onion dome and cross, was unveiled at the city parade ground in November 1841 on the 29th anniversary of the recapture of Smolensk. In 1874, the parade ground was converted into a central park on the initiative of Alexander Lopatin, governor of Smolensk Province from 1871 to 1880. The park was subsequently named the Lopatin Garden. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. 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 different parts of the empire.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Смоленск. Памятник 1812 г.

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: October 7, 2016