Gethsemane Monastery in Nil's Hermitage


In 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. Prokudin-Gorskii photographed extensively at the monastery as well as at the affiliated Gethsemane Hermitage (skete), established in the mid-17th century on nearby Gorodomlia Island for monks who wanted greater solitude. The island was known for the beauty of its pine forests, which were the subject of two famous paintings in 1890–91 by Ivan Shishkin. In the early 20th century, the Gethsemane Hermitage was revived with the construction of a number of log structures. Seen at the end of this road through a pine forest is the north facade of the Church of the Dormition, built in 1907–09. The hermitage was closed in the 1920s and converted to a kind of hotel for tourists in the 1950s. 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

Гефсиманский скит в Ниловой пустыни

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