Fresco from the Cathedral of the Ipatevskii Monastery. Kostroma


In 1911, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) visited the town of Kostroma and photographed at the Trinity-Ipat’evskii Monastery. This photograph shows a fresco of the Judgement of Pontius Pilate, painted for the monastery’s Trinity Cathedral in 1685 by a group of Kostroma artists headed by Gurii Nikitin. The scene shows Jesus, hands bound in front, before a turbaned Pilate, the Roman prefect who ruled the province of Judaea from 26 to 36 CE. Next to Pilate presumably are members of the Sanhedrin, the ancient Jewish court. Behind Jesus are massed armed Roman soldiers in the courtyard of the praetorium (possibly Herod’s Palace, where the Roman prefects lived). Nikitin, who was born in Kostroma around 1620, was one of the most accomplished 17th-century Russian artists. The Trinity Cathedral frescoes, completed six years before his death in 1691, are among the most important of the works attributed to him. Many such scenes in Russian fresco painting of the period were taken from illustrated German Bibles that were known to Russian artists. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire on the eve of the Russian Revolution. 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 different parts of the empire.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Фреска из собора Ипатьевскаго мон. Кострома

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