Cherry Trees in Flower
In the early summer of 1910, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled and photographed extensively in Tver’ Province northwest of Moscow. Among the towns he visited was the regional commercial center of Rzhev, the population of which in that year was 22,400. This photograph shows gnarled cherry trees in bloom in or near Rzhev. Cultivated by the ancient Greeks, cherry trees became widespread in the central part of European Russia and were particularly associated with country estates. In Anton Chekhov’s play The Cherry Orchard (1903), the trees are symbolically associated with the fading of the landed nobility in Russia. Prokudin-Gorskii photographed plants not only as a way of defining the areas that he visited, but also as a demonstration of the range of his color process. Sharp with detail in the center, the photograph is softly focused on the edges, which gives this lyrical study the quality of an impressionist painting. On the right is a structure, perhaps a house. 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.
Title in Original Language
Вишневыя деревья в цвету
Type of Item
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: January 13, 2017