Fresco on the Left Wall in the Church of Saint John the Precursor. Yaroslavl


In 1911, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled to the middle Volga region and spent time in the medieval centers of Yaroslavl and Kostroma. Seen here are frescoes on the left (north) wall of the Church of the Decapitation of John the Baptist at Tolchkovo, one of the greatest monuments of Yaroslavl religious art. Built over an extended period from 1671–87, this highly decorated brick church has an interior covered with frescoes painted in 1695–96 by a group of artists headed by the Yaroslavl masters Dmitrii Plekhanov and Fedor Ignatiev. The frescoes are arranged in nine registers containing over 500 scenes. The upper register in this view shows episodes from the life of Christ, beneath which are scenes of the finding of the head of John the Baptist. The bottom row shows a multitude of saints and prelates above an ornamental inscription about the creation of the church. At the base of the frescoes is a decorative floral band. 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

Фреска на левой стене в церкви Иоанна Предтечи. Ярославль

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: March 3, 2017