Portfolio: Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii
The true colours of Tsarist Russia revealed
Sunday 12 May 2013
Rarely has a dying regime seemed quite so alive. In early-20th-century Russia, in what were to be the last years of Tsarist rule, Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii was commissioned by Nicolas II to journey throughout the empire and document the daily life and environs of its diverse population.
A chemist-turned-photographer, Prokudin-Gorskii was a pioneer of full-colour photography via a technique that saw him combine photographs shot using red, green and blue filters in quick succession into one image.
The results of his visual survey, which took in 11 regions between 1909 and 1915 (and was preceded by exploratory work dating back to 1905), were intended to be mass-reproduced as slides to help educate children about their country.
History, however, got in the way: in 1917 came the Russian revolution, causing Prokudin-Gorskii to flee and settle in Paris. Following his death in 1944, the United States Library of Congress acquired a selection of his album prints and negatives, but it is only in the past decade that the latter have been restored to full colour using modern digital processes.
As can be seen here, the results proffer the shock of the old, their vivid palettes making an era typically known to us in black and white feel thrillingly, momentarily contemporary.
'Nostalgia: The Russian Empire of Czar Nicolas II' (£55, Gestalten) is out now
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 2 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew