Imperial Russia, in Living Colour

Rare Color Photos Of The Russian Empire At The Turn Of The Century

These rare color photos by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii document the Russian empire between 1909 and 1915. With the support of Tsar Nicholas II, Prokudin-Gorskii traveled throughout the Russian empire in a specially outfitted train car conducting a photographic survey, according to the Library of Congress, which owns the original slides (Captured: Color Photography from Russia in the Early 1900’s).

Using a special technique that captured three black and white photographs in succession, the pictures could then be combined using red, green and blue filters to create realistic color. The result is vivid photographs that look startlingly modern. The world that Prokudin-Gorskii carefully documented was soon to be destroyed by the Russian revolution, and he would leave Russia himself in 1918 for France. However, these amazing photographs remain as a vivid reminder of Russia’s diverse peoples and rich history.

Captured: Russia in Color

Peasant girls, Russian Empire. Three young women offer berries to visitors to their izba, a traditional wooden house, in a rural area along the Sheksna River, near the town of Kirillov; 1909.

Captured: Russia in Color

Man and camel loaded with packs; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Bashkir switchman; 1910.

Captured: Russia in Color

Isfandiyar, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm (Khiva), full-length portrait, in uniform, seated on chair, outdoors; between 1910 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Photographer posing with two others; 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

In Little Russia (Ukraine); between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Alim Khan, Emir of Bukhara, seated holding sword; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Boy standing by wooden gatepost; 1910.

Captured: Russia in Color

Work at the Bakalskii mine; 1910.

Captured: Russia in Color

Andrei Petrov Kalganov. Former master in the plant. Seventy-two years old, has worked at the plant for fifty-five years. He was fortunate to present bread and salt to His Imperial Majesty, the Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II, Zlatoust; 1910.

Captured: Russia in Color

On the Karolitskhali River, self portrait of photographer Prokudin-Gorskii in suit and hat, seated on rock beside the Karolitskhali River, with mountains in background; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Pinkhus Karlinskii, eighty-four years. Sixty-six years of service. Supervisor of Chernigov floodgate, Russian Empire; 1909.

Captured: Russia in Color

Crew of the steamship “Sheksna” of the M.P.S. (Ministry of Communication and Transportation), Russian Empire; 1909.

Captured: Russia in Color

Dagestani types, Group of women posed outdoors; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Construction of iron-concrete frames for the lock’s walls, Beloomut, Uniformed man posed in framework of lock; 1912.

Captured: Russia in Color

Mosque in Vladikavkaz; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Shepherd posed near a hillside, Samarkand; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Georgian woman standing on a carpet, outside, near a tree; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Mugan, Settler’s family, Settlement of Grafovka; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Group of workers harvesting tea. Greek women, Chakva; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Dagestani types, Man and woman posed outdoors; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Camel caravan carrying thorns for fodder, Golodnaia Steppe; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Melon vendor, Samarkand; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

At work on the upper reaches of the Syr-Darya, Golodnaia Steppe, Four men on a horse-drawn cart, next to a cliff; between 1905 and 1915.

Captured: Russia in Color

Migrant farmstead in the settlement of Nadezhdinsk with a group of peasants, Golodnaia Steppe; between 1905 and 1915.

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One Response to Imperial Russia, in Living Colour

  1. chris Nooteboom says:

    Flabbergasting… A totally vanished world, yet so incredebly near… ¡Absolutely fascinating!

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