Bridge across the Berezina River, near the City of Borisov


In 1911 and 1912, in connection with the centenary of the Napoleonic campaign against Russia, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) photographed areas along the invasion route. Seen here is the wooden bridge over the Berezina River at the town of Borisov, 77 kilometers to the west of Minsk. First mentioned under the year 1102, the town was named after Boris Vseslavich, Prince of Polotsk following his victory over the Baltic Yotvingians. A part of Lithuania and Poland during the medieval period, the area became a part of the Russian Empire in 1793 as a result of the Second Partition of Poland. During November 26-29, the Berezina crossing was the site of one of the most dramatic events in the 1812 campaign. Threatened with complete destruction, the frozen French army suffered enormous losses crossing the river. Yet due to the bravado of Napoleon and indecisive actions by local Russian commanders, a core of the French forces was able to survive and retreat to Vilnius. 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

Мост через р. Березину у г. Борисова

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