View of the Saint Nil Stolbenskii Monastery on Stolbnoi Island, Lake Seliger from the Gorodovnia Island


In the early summer of 1910, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) visited the Tver region to the northwest of Moscow. One of the region’s major religious institutions is the Saint Nil-Stolobenskii Monastery (Nilo-Stolobenskaia pustyn’), on Stolobnyi Island in Lake Seliger. In 1594, Patriarch Job of Moscow sanctioned the founding of a monastery on the island where the venerable Nil (Nilus), a renowned ascetic, lived for 27 years until his death in December 1554. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the monastery flourished and became one of Russia’s largest. This view was taken from Gorodomlia Island, which is located to the south of the monastery and is the site of the Gethsemane Hermitage (skete). Although the photographer found a good vantage point at a sandy opening on the island’s shore, the softness of the image suggests that the lens was not well prepared for such a large depth of field. 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

Вид с острова Городовня на Монастырь Пр. Нила Столбенскаго. [озеро Селигер]

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