Enamel Painting Process. In the Rostov Museum. Rostov Velikii


In 1911, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) visited the town of Rostov the Great, located some 210 kilometers northeast of Moscow, where he took many photographs of churches and church antiquities. This photograph taken at the Rostov Museum shows a display case illustrating the steps to create the renowned Rostov finift, a type of enamel miniature, the production of which began to flourish in the 18th century. In the upper left is a copper medallion, which provides the base for the enamel. The disk receives a brass overlay. Powdered glass is placed on the prepared surface with color provided by mineral salts. The object is fired to melt the powder and create a durable vitreous coating with bright colors. On the right is an illustration of color changes during the firing process. The glass powder is illustrated at the lower right. This finift medallion contains a depiction of the Evangelist Matthew holding a representation of the Gospel of which he is the author. At the beginning of the 20th century, 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

Процесс финифтевой живописи. В Ростовском музее. Ростов Великий

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 http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.

Last updated: September 21, 2017