Rare color pictures from Russian Empire, 1905-1915

The Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky Collection consists of color photographic surveys of the vast Russian Empire built between ca. 1905 and 1915. In those years, the photographer Prokudin-Gorsky (1863–1944) conducted a photographic survey of the Russian Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II.

He used a special camera to capture the three black and white images using red, green and blue filters fast enough, so that they could be recombined later and to show near true color images. Can be launched with filtered lanterns.

The high quality of the images, combined with the bright colours, make it hard for viewers to believe they are looking back over 100 years ago – when these photos were taken, neither the Russian Revolution nor the First World War had begun yet. was.

Around 1905, Prokudin-Gorsky devised and formulated a plan to use the emerging technological advances made in color photography to systematically document the Russian Empire.

Through such an ambitious project, his ultimate goal was to educate Russia's school children with their "optical color projections" of the empire's vast and varied history, culture, and modernization.

Equipped with a specially equipped railroad-car darkroom granted by Tsar Nicholas II and in possession of two permits, which gave him access to restricted areas and cooperation from the Empire's bureaucracy, Prokudin-Gorsky served in the Russian Federation from around 1909 to 1915. Documented the empire. He did many illustrated operations. lectures of his work.

His photographs offer a vivid portrait of a lost world - the Russian Empire on the eve of World War I and the impending Russian Revolution. His subjects ranged from the daily life and work of Russia's diverse population, from the medieval churches and monasteries of Old Russia to the railroads and factories of an emerging industrial power.

From Prokudin-Gorsky's personal list it is estimated that before leaving Russia, he had about 3500 negatives. Upon leaving the country and exporting all of its photographic material, nearly half of the photographs were confiscated by Russian authorities, including material that was strategically sensitive to wartime Russia.

As Prokudin-Gorsky notes, the photos left behind were not of interest to the general public. Some of Prokudin-Gorsky's negatives were dispelled, and some were hidden upon his departure. None have yet been found, outside the Library of Congress collection.

After Prokudin-Gorsky's death, the Tsar and his family were long executed during the Russian Revolution, and once communist rule was established over the Russian Empire.

The remaining boxes of photo albums and fragile glass plates on which the negatives were recorded were eventually stored in the basement of a Paris apartment building, and the family was concerned about their damage.

The United States Library of Congress purchased materials from Prokudin-Gorsky's heirs in 1948 for $3500-$5000 at the initiative of a researcher to inquire about their whereabouts. The library counted 1,902 negatives and 710 album prints without corresponding negatives in the collection.

Tri-color theory: The method of color photography used by Prokudin-Gorsky was first suggested by James Clerk Maxwell in 1855 and demonstrated in 1861, but good results were not possible with the photographic materials available at the time.

The way a normal human eye perceives color, the visible spectrum of colors was split into three channels of information by capturing it as three black-and-white photographs, one taken through a red filter, one through green. filter, and through a blue filter.

The resulting three photographs can either be projected through filters of the same color and superimposed exactly on a screen, essentially synthesizing the original range of color.

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