Church in Orsha Monastery. Orsha Ascension Monastery, Twenty-Two Versts from Tver


In the summer of 1910, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled and photographed extensively in Tver’ Province northwest of Moscow. Among the places he visited was the Ascension Monastery at Orsha, located some 20 kilometers east of Tver’ near the Volga River. The monastery was founded perhaps as early as the 14th century and reestablished in the early 15th century by Prince Boris Alexandrovich of Tver’. Expanded during the 16th century, it was devastated by Polish-Lithuanian forces during the Time of Troubles in the early 17th century and never fully recovered. In 1649 it was listed as a dependency of the Tver’ bishopric. Construction resumed in the 19th century, but the number of monks declined and in 1903 the monastery was reorganized as a convent. The convent was closed in 1919, but it revived in 1992. Seen here is an east view of the Ascension Cathedral, the main structure of which was completed in 1567. As with many other 16th-century churches, the roofline originally followed the contours of the semicircular gables (zakomary), but subsequently the upper structure was simplified with the placement of a slanted metal roof of the type seen here. The bell tower at the west end was added in the 19th century. 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

Храм в Оршском монастыре. Оршский Вознесенский монастырь в 22 верстах от Твери

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 11, 2017