Peter the Great's Small Boat. Near Pereiaslavl-Zalesskii


The town of Pereslavl’-Zalesskii northeast of Moscow was a center of medieval Russian culture. Among its attractions was the little botik (boat) Fortuna from the flotilla of some 100 boats that the young Tsar Peter I (Peter the Great) ordered built in 1689–92 for Lake Pleshcheev. Here Peter began his exploration of naval maneuvers, including the use of armaments. Evidence suggests that Fortuna in fact was built by Peter, an expert carpenter. In 1783 a fire destroyed all the boats except Fortuna, which had been kept securely at the village of Ves’kovo, located near the south shore of the lake four kilometers from Pereslavl’-Zalesskii. In 1803 the boat was placed in a new brick structure that became the center of the Botik estate, considered one of Russia’s earliest local history museums. Fortuna is a small oak sloop with a rounded prow and stern, and a single mast that could accommodate a gaff rig as well as a triangular foresail. It was steered by a tiller attached to a rudderpost. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. 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 parts of the empire. He photographed Fortuna in 1911.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Ботик Петра I. Близ Переяславля-Залесскаго

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: September 23, 2016