Zhitnyi Monastery for Men. Ostashkov


In May 1910, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) photographed extensively in the Ostashkov region of Tver Province. Seen here is a south view of the Zhitnyi Smolensk Icon Monastery, originally situated on an island in Lake Seliger and connected to Ostashkov in 1853 by the construction of an earthen causeway. The monastery arose in 1716 with the building of a wooden church dedicated to the Smolensk Hodegetria Icon of the Virgin, one of the town’s sacred relics. Not initially sanctioned by the regional diocese, the monastic community gained local support for its official status, and in 1737, work began on a masonry church dedicated to the Smolensk Icon. Completed in 1741, the church had an octagonal upper structure with five cupolas. A decade later, an octagonal bell tower arose at the west end of the church refectory. Construction of the monastery’s brick walls in the 1760s culminated with the Gate Church of Saint John the Divine and Saint Andrew (1767-68). 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

Житный мужской монастырь. Осташков

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 http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.

Last updated: October 3, 2016