Portrait of the Nun Marfa, Mother of Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich, and a Portrait of Serdiukov. In the Tver Museum


In 1910, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled and photographed extensively in Tver’ Province northwest of Moscow. His work included photographing a number of exhibits in the Tver’ Museum. Opened in 1866, the museum displayed natural and archeological items from the area, as well as works of art and crafts. On the left is a protrait of Sister Marfa (Xenia Shestova; 1560–1631), mother of Mikhail Feodorovich, the first Romanov tsar. In 1601, she was exiled and forced to take the veil by Tsar Boris Godunov, who feared the Romanovs. With the establishment of the Romanov dynasty in 1613, she gained great influence in affairs of state. The portrait on the right is of Mikhail Serdyukov (1678–1754), a merchant, ship builder and hydraulic engineer who in 1719 was granted ownership of the Vyshny Volochek waterway, a canal system built by Peter the Great in 1703–09. 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

Портрет инокини Марфы, матери Царя Михаила Федоровича, и портрет Сердюкова. В Тверском музее

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: January 11, 2017