Vitebsk. South-Eastern Part of the City
In 1911 and1912, in connection with the centenary of the 1812 Napoleonic campaign against Russia, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) photographed sites along the invasion route. Among them was Vitebsk, located on the Daugava (also known as the Western Dvina) River and its tributary, the Vitba River, in what is now Belarus. Vitebsk is generally thought to have been founded in the mid-10th century by Princess Olga. In 1318, Vitebsk became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and then Poland until the partition of 1772, when it was absorbed by the Russian Empire. The French occupied Vitebsk from July 16 until October 26 (November 7, old style), 1812. This 1912 view shows the southeastern part of town from the bell tower of the Dormition Cathedral. On the left is the Church of the Resurrection on the Market, built in the Baroque style (1772) as a Uniate church and converted to an Orthodox church in 1834. Behind it is the Catholic Church of Saint Antony of Padua (mid-18th century). Vitebsk also had a sizeable Jewish population. 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.
Title in Original Language
Витебск. Юго-восточная часть города
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: October 7, 2016