Intricate Icon Setting and a Cross. 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. In 1846, a secret chamber containing valuable religious objects was discovered under the floor of the Ascension Cathedral. Seen here are examples of tooled silver-plated overlays placed on icons. From the outlines, it is clear that the lower left icon shows the Hodegetria Icon of the Mother of God (with the Christ Child), flanked by Saint Nicholas (left) and John the Baptist. On the left is a filigree cross, also of silver, that would be carried on a wooden staff. In its center is a carving of the Crucifixion. 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

Оклады и крест филигранной работы. 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