Lake Sterzh with the Volga Emptying into It


In May 1910, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) photographed in the Ostashkov area of Tver Province. Seen here in this southeast view is a part of Lake Seliger known as the Ostashkov expanse (plyos). The photograph is apparently taken from a cape on Stolobnyi Island, site of one of the region’s major religious institutions, the Saint Nil-Stolobenskii Monastery. Visible on the far left at the village of Peski is a large white house with an upper half story (mezzanine). On the right is Gorodomlia Island, location of the Gethsemane Hermitage (skete). In this nature study, the photographer successfully evokes a lyrical mood with young fir trees in the foreground and the reflection of soft clouds on the lake’s still surface. Only the slight discoloration of the reflected cloud fringes indicates surface motion during the photograph’s extended exposure. 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

Озеро Стерж с впадающей в него Волгой

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 3, 2016