Main Building of the Saint Nil Stolobenskii Monastery. Lake Seliger


In the early summer of 1910, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) visited Tver’ Province northwest of Moscow. One of the region’s major religious institutions is the Saint Nil-Stolobenskii Monastery (Nilo-Stolobenskaia pustyn’), situated on Stolobnyi Island in Lake Seliger. In 1594, Job, the first Patriarch of Moscow, sanctioned the founding of a monastery on the island where the venerable ascetic Nil (Nilus) lived for 27 years until his death in December 1554. This south view shows the main cloisters (1838) designed by Tver’ architect Ivan Fedorovich Lvov and built on a red granite base. With their small cupolas, spires and lancet window pediments, the cloisters display a Romantic mixture of Gothic Revival and Neoclassical elements. To the left is the Church of Saints Peter and Paul (1760–64) over the west gate by the abbott’s residence. On the right, resting pilgrims seem small within the imposing architectural setting. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of his 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

Главный корпус монастыря 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: January 13, 2017