Cross behind the Altar, in the Church of Saint John Chrysostom, from the Time of the First Romanovs. Yaroslavl


In 1911, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled to the middle Volga region, where he photographed examples of church art in Yaroslavl. Seen here is an altar cross from the time of the first Romanovs. (Michael, the first Romanov tsar, was enthroned in 1613.) The cross was held in the Church of Saint John Chrysostom, part of the church ensemble at Korovniki, a district of Yaroslavl near the confluence of the Kotorosl and Volga Rivers. Elaborately carved and supported on a wooden shaft, the cross has four medallions that depict, clockwise from the top, the Old Testament Trinity, the Baptism of Christ, the Empty Tomb, and the Transfiguration. The larger medallion in the center depicts the Descent into Hell. The carving is composed primarily of botanical motifs. In Orthodox churches, the altar cross stands next to the altar icon in the apse at the eastern part of the church. During processions of the cross around the church, the altar cross is carried in front. 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

Запрестольный крест в церкви Иоанна Златоуста. Времен первых Романовых. 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