1907-1915 Russia Before the Revolution, in Color

Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1863–1944) became photographically renowned in Russia for a color portrait of Leo Tolstoy. It was this fame that, in 1909, brought him to the attention of Tsar Nicholas II.

Prokudin-Gorsky’s subsequent meeting with the tsar and the tsar’s family was to be the pivotal moment in his life: The tsar provided both the funding and the authority for Prokudin-Gorsky to carry out what he would later describe as his life’s work.

For most of the following decade, using a specially adapted railroad car as a darkroom, Prokudin-Gorsky traversed the length and breadth of the Russian Empire, recording what he saw in more than 10,000 full-color photographs.
The color process Prokudin-Gorsky worked with required three separate black-and-white exposures, each one taken through either a red, green or blue filter. When the filtered exposures were combined, the result was the full chromatic spectrum in a photograph.

Prokudin-Gorsky left Russia in 1918 after the Communist Revolution and ultimately came to settle with his family in Paris. Approximately half of his own negatives were confiscated by the Russian authorities on his departure.

In 1948, the Library of Congress bought the remaining photographic materials from Prokudin-Gorsky’s heirs. At the turn of the millennium, the Library exhibited the a number of the photographs as The Empire That Was Russia, and has since made the digitized versions of Prokudin-Gorsky’s work available for free online.
This selection of images shows some of the portraits Prokudin-Gorsky captured, the diverse people who together made up the Russian Empire, before the revolution.

Source: Mashable

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