Turret in an Old Church Wall. Six Versts from the City of Polotsk


Shown here is a crumbling brick wall, with a low tower capped by wooden shingles, enclosing the yard around the Church of the Elevation of the Cross at the village of Strun’e, located just to the west of Polotsk in present-day Belarus. The origins of the ancient town of Polotsk, in the Vitebsk region, date to the 9th century. Located on the Dvina River, the town was the site of two battles during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. The first of these, in mid-August, resulted in a stalemate, but also blocked the invader’s path to Saint Petersburg. At the same time, the French presence in Polotsk protected Napoleon’s supply base in Vitebsk. In mid-October the Russian forces succeeded in driving the French from Polotsk and, soon thereafter, French forces lost access to their supply route as well. 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 the Napoleonic campaign against Russia, Prokudin-Gorskii photographed areas along the invasion route in 1911 and 1912.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Башенка в старинной церковной стене. В 6-ти верстах от г. Полоцка


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