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Collection Prokudin-Gorskii Collection

Biographic Information

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii

Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, an official and four railway workers(?)riding on a railroad handcar
Na drezini︠e︡ u Petrozavodska po Murm. zh.d. [On a handcar along the Murmansk railroad near Petrozavodsk]. Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, photographer [1915]. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Born in the settlement of Funikova gora, in rural Vladimir Province east of Moscow, in 1863, and educated as a chemist, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii devoted his career to the advancement of photography. He studied with renowned scientists in St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Paris. His own original research yielded patents for producing color film slides and for projecting color motion pictures.

Around 1907, Prokudin-Gorskii envisioned and formulated a plan to use the emerging technological advancements that had been made in color photography to systematically document the Russian Empire. Through such an ambitious project he intended to educate the school children of Russia with his "optical color projections" of the vast and diverse history, culture, and modernization of the Empire. Outfitted with a specially equipped railroad car-darkroom provided by Tsar Nicholas II, and in possession of two permits that granted him cooperation from the Empire's bureaucracy and access to restricted areas, Prokudin-Gorskii documented the Russian Empire from 1909 through 1915. He conducted many illustrated lectures of his work. His assistants are sometimes credited on prints seen in other collections.

Prokudin-Gorskii left Russia in 1918, after the Russian Revolution, and eventually settled in Paris, where he died in 1944.

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