16 Photos Of Russia Just Before The Revolution That Are Haunting

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii was a chemist and a color photographer who lived and worked way before his time. He undertook the task of documenting the vast Russian Empire of Tsar Nicholas II, who commissioned him to trek the country and create a visual record of Russian identity.

  • He spent between 1909 and 1912 taking vivid and haunting photographs of the vast Russian land, which at the time was undergoing huge political and social changes.
  • He took his advanced color photographs using a combination of red, green and blue filters
  • To this day, no one knows what camera he used, partly because he built it himself.

The Library of Congress eventually purchased over 250 prints from his heirs, and meticulously restored them before making them available to the general public through their website. The exhibition, called The Empire that Was Russia, showcases the eve of World War I and the calm before the storm of the revolution through the eyes of Prokudin-Gorskii.

Here are some of the most peaceful and haunting pictures taken by Prokudin-Gorskii, which include landscapes, churches and portraits of the many ethnic groups living and working in Russia at the time. 

Photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii and two unidentified men somewhere in Murmansk.

The church of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, Nyrob, located near the Kolva River. Nyrob is known for being the place of exile for Mikhail Nikitich Romanov, nephew of Anastasia.

An unidentified woman wearing traditional peasant attire.

Three peasants girls stand outside of their izba (a traditional log house).

The village of Artvin, Turkey, which Russia occupied until 1917.

An Armenian woman wearing a holiday attire somewhere in Artvin.

Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (Belozersk).

The foreman of a factory in Zlatoust, Andreĭ Petrov Kalganov.

The village of Kolchedan, nestled in the Ural Mountains.

A Bashkir woman in traditional costume.

A church in the town of Vetluga.

A cross in front of a monastery for women, Staraya Ladoga.

Georgian women wearing a holiday dress at a park.

A group of Greek workers take a break from harvesting tea in Chakva, Georgia.

A group of peasants rest in a hay field somewhere near the Mariinsk Canal System.

A group of Jewish children and their teacher, Samarkand.

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