View of the Dnieper River from Veselukha Tower. Smolensk


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 city of Smolensk, devastated by three days of fighting in August 1812. This sweeping view to the northeast was taken from the Veselukha Tower in the northeastern corner of the Smolensk fortress. The name of the tower is related to the Russian word for “cheerful” because of the “cheerful” view of the Dnieper River in the valley below. At this point the river takes a leisurely eastward flow through a bucolic landscape of broad fields. A ribbon of highway extends along the far (left) bank in the direction of Moscow. In the foreground are streets of tidy wooden houses with iron roofs. A number of the houses have large vegetable gardens attached. 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

Вид на Днепр с башни Веселуха. Смоленск

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