Avraamievskii Monastery. Smolensk


This photograph shows a cobbled lane looking toward the north facade of the monastery of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior, completed in Smolensk 1755. References to Smolensk, one of the oldest cities of medieval Rus’, are found as early as the 9th century. Among its several monasteries, the one dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Savior is thought to have been founded by the Monk Avraamii in the early 13th century. The monastery was ransacked and turned into a Catholic cloister when the Poles took Smolensk in 1611. After the recapture of the city by Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich in 1654, the Avraamiev-Transfiguration Monastery gradually revived. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. 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 parts of the empire. In connection with the centenary of Napoleon’s campaign against Russia, Prokudin-Gorskii photographed sites along the invasion route in 1911. The city of Smolensk endured a devastating attack by Napoleonic forces in August 1812 that led to its destruction by fire.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Авраамевский монастырь г. Смоленск

Additional Subjects

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: September 23, 2016