Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (August 31, 1863September 27, 1944) (Russian: Сергей Михайлович Прокудин-Горский Template:Audio) devoted his career to the advancement of photography.

He was born in Murom in Vladimir Oblast, Russia and educated as a chemist. He studied with renowned scientists in Saint Petersburg, Berlin, and Paris, and developed early techniques for taking colour photographs.

Missing image
Sergei Prokudin-Gorski. Self portrait on the Karolitskhali River, 1915.

His own original research yielded patents for producing color film slides and for projecting color motion pictures. Around 1905 Prokudin-Gorskii envisioned and formulated a plan to use the emerging technological advancements that had been made in color photography to systematically document the Russian Empire. Through such an ambitious project, his ultimate goal was to educate the schoolchildren of Russia with his "optical color projections" of the vast and diverse history, culture, and modernization of the empire.

His process used a camera that took a series of monochrome pictures in rapid sequence, each through a different coloured filter. By projecting all three monochrome pictures using correctly-coloured light, it was possible to reconstruct the original colour scene. He had no system for making color prints of the photographs.

Outfitted with a specially equipped railroad car darkroom provided by Tsar Nicholas II, and in possession of two permits that granted him access to restricted areas and cooperation from the empire's bureaucracy, Prokudin-Gorskii documented the Russian Empire around 1909 through 1915. He conducted many illustrated lectures of his work. Prokudin-Gorskii left Russia in 1918, after the Russian Revolution, and eventually settled in Paris, where he died in 1944.

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

Prokudin-Gorskii left Russia in 1918, going first to Norway and England before settling in France. By then, the tsar and his family had died in the events of the Russian Revolution, and the Communist rule had been established over what was once the Russian Empire. His unique images of Russia on the eve of the revolution — recorded on glass plates — were purchased by the Library of Congress in 1948 from his heirs.

In 2001, the Library of Congress produced an exhibition, The Empire that was Russia. For this exhibition, the glass plates were scanned and color images were produced digitally from the scanned red, green, and blue monochrome images.

In 2004, the Library contracted with Blaise Agera y Arcas to produce an automated color composite of each of the 1,902 negatives from the high resolution digital images of the glass plate negatives. A complete description ( of his process and a list of other sites that have prepared digital color composite images are in the collection profile ( at the Library of Congress.

External links


es:Sergui Mijilovich Prokudin-Gorskii it:Serghej Prokudin-Gorskij nl:Sergej Prokoedin-Gorski nn:Sergei Mikhailovitsj Prokudin-Gorski ru:Прокудин-Горский, Сергей Михайлович


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