Colour photographs from the Russia of 1909

This is from Kuriositas. A magnificent collection of colour photographs from a Russia of a century ago.

The Century Old Color Photographs of Prokudin-Gorsky

In 1909 a remarkable project was initiated by Russian photographer Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky. His mission was to record – in full and vibrant color – the vast and diverse Russian Empire. Here, with his story, is a selection of his amazing century old full color pictures. …

The colors are quite remarkable – a technique which Prokudin-Gorsky developed himself. However, his travels through the Russian Empire were never a fait accompli. They were the culmination of a long and arduous struggle. Thanks to the tenacity of the photographer we now have a record of times a century ago, so clear and vivid that one feels it is almost possible to jump in to the picture …….. Prokudin-Gorsky came from a long line of Russian nobles who mostly enjoyed careers in the Russian army. Prokudin-Gorsky had a more cerebral bent and he studied chemistry in Saint Petersburg at the Institute of Technology in the city. He also studied painting and music at the Imperial Academy of Arts. Chemistry and the Arts may not immediately spring to mind as a happy marriage of subjects to many, but Prokudin-Gorsky’s interest in both would come together eventually. In 1889, at the age of twenty six he travelled to Berlin to study Photochemistry at the Technical University of the German capitol. There he met and studied under Adolf Miethe who was experimenting with three color photography. ……. 

The process used involved a camera that would take a set of three photographs. These pictures would be monochrome but each picture would be taken using a filter of a different color. When all three monochrome pictures were projected (using light which had to be specifically colored) then the original color scene could be reconstructed. However, this took some time to take ….. 

Here are just a couple of a quite remarkable collection which spans the mighty and the miserable:

Prokudin-Gorsky 40 Emir of Bukhara

Prokudin-Gorsky 40 Emir of Bukhara

Prokudin-Gorsky 25 Hard labour at the Bakalskiy Mine

Prokudin-Gorsky 25 Hard labour at the Bakalskiy Mine

Prokudin-Gorsky is credited with the first ever colour photograph in Russia – a portrait of Leo Tolstoy – in 1908.

Prokudin-Gorsky L.N.Tolstoy 1908 Wikimedia

Prokudin-Gorsky L.N.Tolstoy 1908 Wikimedia


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One Response to “Colour photographs from the Russia of 1909”

  1. steviepreater Says:

    Very interesting!

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