In May 1910, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) photographed extensively in the Ostashkov region of Tver Province. Among the areas he visited was the picturesque Valdai Heights, where this view of a stand of pines likely was taken. (The caption does not give specific information on the site.) To judge by their height and clear growth, the pines might have been planted. There are some 16 varieties of pine native to Russia, of which the most common in the European part is the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) seen here. Pines have long been essential to Russian life not only as the most widespread natural building material (both for construction and for carpentry details), but also as a source of commercial products such as turpentine (produced from resin) and edible pine nuts. Pine cones can be used as a fuel (for example, in samovars), Because of the bright flame produced by high resin content, pine splinters (luchinka) were often used as a source of light, particularly in peasant households too poor to afford candles. 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.
Title in Original Language
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: October 3, 2016