General View of Steppe from the Government House. Golodnaia Steppe
In the late 19th century Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, initiated a development project in Turkestan to create an area for raising cotton, wheat, and livestock in the Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe”) by diverting water from the Syr Darya River. This view, taken from a nearby house used for government administration of the irrigation system, shows the vast expanse of the steppe plain. The landscape is treeless. Plant growth in this arid region depended on irrigation. In some areas the steppe had pockets of salt deposits on the surface. In the distance winds the blue ribbon of the Tsar Nicholas I Canal, which served the grand duke’s estate. 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 different parts of the empire. In 1911 his travels took him to Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), where he photographed traditional culture as well as the development brought about by Russian settlement and investment.
Title in Original Language
Общий вид степи от казеннаго домика. Голодная степь
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: September 30, 2016