Rare color photographs of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century

A truly wonderful thing is the Internet and all of the things you can use it for.

This time I followed a Tweet from Paul Goodman’s Twitter list. It was from Alec Luhn, a Guardian journalist reporting on Russia. In Alec’s tweet he linked to an article containing almost 70 early 20th century colour photos of Russia. The text in the LiveJournal article is in Cyrillic. Using the wonderful Google translate facility, I’m able to describe the photos,

Keen photographer and chemist Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky in 1906 published a series of articles devoted to the principles of color photography. He perfected a method of colour photography, shooting objects three times through three filters – red, green and blue. Impressed by the quality of his photos the Russian government allocated Prokudin-Gorsky a specially equipped railroad car to travel for the purpose of photographic documentation of the life of the Russian empire.

The photos have an other-worldly, ethereal, and wistful quality about them. As you can see from the example below.


If you haven’t had enough of these photos, there are plenty more in another LiveJournal photo extravaganza.

2 thoughts on “Rare color photographs of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century

  1. Wow it’s incredible! I love how clear the images are, and how much depth they have! I couldn’t believe the first one was taken in 1906 when I saw it – I would have guessed 1970s! What a fantastic find.


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