Old Chapel on an Island


Tver is an ancient city on the Volga River to the northwest of Moscow. One of the Tver region’s major religious institutions is the Saint Nil-Stolobenskii Monastery (Nilo-Stolobenskaia pustyn’), on Stolobny Island in Lake Seliger. In 1594 Patriarch Job of Moscow sanctioned the founding of a monastery on this 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 it flourished and became one of Russia’s largest monasteries. This view shows a modest log chapel in a coniferous forest near the Gethsemane skete (hermitage) on Gorodomlia Island. The island was known for the beauty of its pine forests, which formed the subject of two famous paintings in 1890-91 by Ivan Shishkin. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. 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

Древняя часовня на острова [i.e. на острове]

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: September 23, 2016