Adobe Buildings in Desert Plains


Shown here are a cotton field and adobe buildings on the estate of Grand Duke Nicholas Konstantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, in Golodnaia Steppe (Hungry Steppe), located in present-day Uzbekistan. Exiled from Saint Petersburg in 1874 because of a family scandal, Nicholas settled in 1881 in Tashkent. There he sponsored a number of philanthropic and entrepreneurial projects. Among the latter was a vast irrigation scheme intended to provide arable land to Russian settlers and make Golodnaia Steppe a productive area for raising cotton and wheat. 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. Prokudin-Gorskii was particularly interested in recently acquired territories of the Russian Empire such as Turkestan (present-day Uzbekistan and neighboring states), which he visited on a number of occasions, including two trips in 1911. His work there reveals a dual purpose: to illustrate progress and development as a result of Russian settlement, and to record the monuments of traditional Islamic culture.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Саманные строения на пустынной равнине

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 30, 2016