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Rare Photography Of Russian Empire In 1910s Glow In Splendid Colour

Published 7 years ago

It is almost incomprehensible that these colour photographs were taken in Russian Empire a century ago, even before the beginning of World War I! Such early years as 1909-1915, the years that these pictures were taken, are deeply engraved in our imagination as the world of black and white. Therefore these rare images by trained photographer and chemist  Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944) strike us with awe.

The photographs were taken with specialized camera in three shots: one in red filter, one in green, and one in blue. All three of these filtered black and white photos would then be layered together and projected as transparancies (“slides”) with the same filters on screen, this way restoring the whole range of colours, very close to the true colours of photographed objects. Prokudin-Gorsky was a pioneer of this three-colour process technique, highly complex and expensive at the time.

Tsar Nickolas II was extremely fond of Prokudin-Gosrky’s early works and even commissioned his travel throughout southern and central Russia to take colour photographs of its nature, towns and people. After the October Revolution, however, he fled Russia and took the negatives with him, which were bought U.S. Library of Congress in 1948 and published only in 1980.

Source: U.S. Library of Congress (via: imgur)

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An Armenian woman in national costume poses for Prokudin-Gorskii on a hillside near Artvin (in present day Turkey)

General view of the Nikolaevskii Cathedral from southwest in Mozhaisk in 1911

A group of Jewish children with a teacher in Samarkand, (in modern Uzbekistan), ca. 1910

A switch operator poses on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, near the town of Ust Katav on the Yuryuzan River in 1910

A dog rests on the shore of Lake Lindozero in 1910. From the album “Views along the Murmansk Railway, Russian Empire”

Sart woman in purdah in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, ca. 1910. Until the Russian revolution of 1917, “Sart” was the name for Uzbeks living in Kazakhstan

Emir Seyyid Mir Mohammed Alim Khan, the Emir of Bukhara, seated holding a sword in Bukhara, (present-day Uzbekistan), ca. 1910

A general view of Sukhumi, Abkhazia and its bay, seen sometime around 1910 from Cherniavskii Mountain

Russian children sit on the side of a hill near a church and bell tower near White Lake, in Russia, 1909

Alternators made in Budapest, Hungary, in the power generating hall of a hydroelectric station in Iolotan (Eloten), Turkmenistan, on the Murghab River, ca. 1910

A man and woman pose in Dagestan, ca. 1910

On the Sim River, a shepherd boy. Photo taken in 1910, from the album “Views in the Ural Mountains, survey of industrial area, Russian Empire”

Nomadic Kirghiz on the Golodnaia Steppe in present-day Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, ca. 1910

Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm (Khiva, now a part of modern Uzbekistan), full-length portrait, seated outdoors, ca. 1910

A boy leans on a wooden gatepost in 1910. From the album “Views in the Ural Mountains, survey of industrial area, Russian Empire”

A group of women in Dagestan, ca. 1910

A water-carrier in Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan), ca. 1910

Prokudin-Gorskii rides along on a handcar outside Petrozavodsk on the Murmansk railway along Lake Onega near Petrozavodsk in 1910

Peasants harvesting hay in 1909. From the album “Views along the Mariinskii Canal and river system, Russian Empire”

Laying concrete for the dam’s sluice, 1912. Workers and supervisors pose for a photograph amid preparations for pouring cement for sluice dam foundation across the Oka River near Beloomut

A Georgian woman poses for a photograph, ca. 1910

Cornflowers in a field of rye, 1909. From the album “Views along the Mariinskii Canal and river system, Russian Empire”

Self-portrait on the Karolitskhali River, ca. 1910. Prokudin-Gorskii in suit and hat, seated on rock beside the Karolitskhali River, in the Caucasus Mountains near the seaport of Batumi on the eastern coast of the Black Sea.

A chapel sits on the site where the city of Belozersk was founded in ancient times, photographed in 1909

A boy sits in the court of Tillia-Kari mosque in Samarkand, present-day Uzbekistan, ca. 1910

Molding of an artistic casting (Kasli Iron Works), 1910. From the album “Views in the Ural Mountains, survey of industrial area, Russian Empire”

A woman is seated in a calm spot on the Sim River, part of the Volga watershed in 1910

General view of Artvin (now in Turkey) from the small town of Svet, ca. 1910


General view of the wharf at Mezhevaya Utka, 1912

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