Boris-Gleb Monastery Torzhok


This 1910 image is from the ancient town of Torzhok, situated on the Tvertsa River some 60 kilometers to the west of Tver. Mentioned in written sources as early as 1139, Torzhok became a rich center of provincial Russian culture. The dominant architectural feature of Torzhok is the Monastery of Saints Boris and Gleb, reputed to have been founded in 1083 and dedicated to the earliest martyrs of the Russian Orthodox Church. Originally built of logs, the monastery gained most of its large masonry buildings in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The wealth of the monastery is reflected in the imposing neoclassical Church of the Miraculous Icon of the Savior, built in 1804–11 over the main gate. The church culminates in a high bell tower, the most visible landmark in Torzhok. The design, with its ascending tiers, is attributed to the prominent architect Nikolai L’vov (1753–1803), who also designed the monastery’s main cathedral. After L’vov’s death, construction was supervised by F. Anan’in, the town architect. 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 parts of the empire.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Борисоглебский монастырь [Торжок]

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: September 23, 2016