Russia Before The Revolution 100 Years Ago VS. Now

When chemistry met photography

Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky was a scientist with a passion for photography, who produced hundreds of colorful images of his country. And he probably would’ve remained just another unknown photographer if it wasn’t for one picture: on one of his trips he got to photograph one of the most renowned Russian authors, Leo Tolstoy.

His name, as an artist, spread fast. His revealing photos even startled the Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, who invited him to his palace to see his work. After contemplating the shots of the empire’s breathtaking landscapes and the portrait of Leo Tolstoy himself, he couldn’t help but give Prokudin-Gorsky an assignment to start a journey to document the Russian Empire in color.

The expedition would last for 6 years, from 1909 to 1915, which the photographer took as the project of his life. Thanks to his technique of 3-image color photography, he was able to keep a record of the country before the revolution.


But, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s begin our tour to the mysterious past and enjoy the picturesque landscapes and intriguing characters.

Girl with wild strawberries

Woman in Little Russia, now Ukraine

The capture of peasants

Crew of the steamship “Sheksna” of the Ministry of Communication and Transportation

Head study

Emir of Bukhara, now Uzbekistan

Group of children

Woodcutters on the Svir River

Dagestani couple in the North Caucasus

3 generations: A.P. Kalganov with his son and granddaughter


Bashkir woman in a folk costume

At harvest time

Prokudin-Gorsky (right) in Murman with 2 men

A switchman on the road

A Bashkir dog

Peasant woman breaking flax

Georgian women dressed in holiday attire, in the park of Borzhom

A teacher with his female students near the Artomelin mosque in Artvin

A group of Greek women workers harvesting tea, in modern day Georgia

Dagestani man, Southern Russia

Armenian women in their traditional clothing

A settler’s family in Grafovka

Prison with inmates looking out through the bars and a guard with a Russian rifle, uniform, and boots, Central Asia

Spinning yarn in the village of Izvedovo

Dagestani women

Man with a camel loaded with packs

Georgian woman in a folk costume

Study of a girl

Sart woman in Samarkand, now Uzbekistan

Peasant girls

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