Lake Sterzh


In May 1910, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) photographed in the Ostashkov area of Tver Province. This view is taken near the point where the small stream of the Volga flows into Lake Sterzh. Some 12 kilometers in length, Lake Sterzh is considered one of the primary sources of the Volga River, beginning a course that in the early 20th century extended for some 3,690 kilometers to the Caspian Sea. Until the end of the 15th century, this area was an important part of the medieval principality of Velikiy Novgorod, with uneven terrain that could be easily fortified and a water network that gave access to vast territory. In the distance are wooden houses and sheds of a group of hamlets around the village of Kokovkino. The hill slopes are covered with plowed fields. During this time of year the lake level is at its height, as indicated by isolated stands of trees surrounded by water. 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

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