Russia in Colour, 1900s

Russia in Colour, 1900s

Greek women and children harvesting tea in Chakva, Georgia.

Greek women and children harvesting tea in Chakva, Georgia.

I had never heard of Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorskii (where have I been living?!), so when I stumbled on his early 20th century photographs of the Russian Empire I was blown away. The Photographium site has a great collection and digging through it is like firing up a time machine. Gorskii, a chemist by trade and photography pioneer, worked with colour like a magician. Hues bleed and spill into one another, so saturated they practically leap off the surface. The accidents only working to enhance their beauty.

"Using a special technique that captured three black and white photographs in succession, the pictures could then be combined using red, green and blue filters to create realistic color. The result are vivid photographs that look startlingly modern."

I could stare at these detailed portraits for hours. I almost find myself forgetting that life in this period was lived in colour when we are so used to the black & white renditions of the early 20th century. A whole new dimension...pure amazing!

Woman in national costume. Artvin. 1905-1915.

Woman in national costume. Artvin. 1905-1915.

Alim Khan, Emir of Bukhara, seated holding sword. 1905-1915.

Alim Khan, Emir of Bukhara, seated holding sword. 1905-1915.

Bukhara bureaucrat. Bukhara, Uzbekistan. 1905-1915.

Bukhara bureaucrat. Bukhara, Uzbekistan. 1905-1915.

A Girl with Strawberries in Vologda Guberniya

A Girl with Strawberries in Vologda Guberniya

Peasant girls. Three young women offer berries to visitors to their "izba", a traditional wooden house, in a rural area along the Sheksna River, near the town of Kirillov, Russia. 1909.

Peasant girls. Three young women offer berries to visitors to their "izba", a traditional wooden house, in a rural area along the Sheksna River, near the town of Kirillov, Russia. 1909.

Work at the Bakalskii mine. A family, with shovels and horse-drawn carts, working at the iron mines in the Bakaly hills. Russia, 1910.

Work at the Bakalskii mine. A family, with shovels and horse-drawn carts, working at the iron mines in the Bakaly hills. Russia, 1910.

Work at the Bakalskii mine. Russia, 1910.

Work at the Bakalskii mine. Russia, 1910.

Pinkhus Karlinskii, the supervisor of the Chernigov floodgate, stands by a ferry dock along the Mariinskii Canal system in the northern part of European Russia. In the photo album of his tour of the canal system, Prokudin-Gorskii noted that Karlinskii was eighty-four years old and had served for sixty-six years.

Pinkhus Karlinskii, the supervisor of the Chernigov floodgate, stands by a ferry dock along the Mariinskii Canal system in the northern part of European Russia. In the photo album of his tour of the canal system, Prokudin-Gorskii noted that Karlinskii was eighty-four years old and had served for sixty-six years.

A Georgian woman poses for a photograph, ca. 1910.

A Georgian woman poses for a photograph, ca. 1910.

Armenian women in holiday attire. Artvin. 1905-1915.

Armenian women in holiday attire. Artvin. 1905-1915.

Group of Jewish children with a teacher. Samarkand. 1905-1915.

Group of Jewish children with a teacher. Samarkand. 1905-1915.

Isfandiyar, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm (Khiva). In uniform, seated on chair, outdoors. 1910-1915.

Isfandiyar, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm (Khiva). In uniform, seated on chair, outdoors. 1910-1915.

Georgian woman standing on a carpet, outside, near a tree. 1905-1915.

Georgian woman standing on a carpet, outside, near a tree. 1905-1915.

A Bashkir switch operator poses by the mainline of the railroad, near the town of Ust' Katav on the Yuryuzan River between Ufa and Cheliabinsk in the Ural Mountain region of European Russia.

A Bashkir switch operator poses by the mainline of the railroad, near the town of Ust' Katav on the Yuryuzan River between Ufa and Cheliabinsk in the Ural Mountain region of European Russia.

Sulyutka Mines

Sulyutka Mines

A water-carrier in Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan), ca. 1910.

A water-carrier in Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan), ca. 1910.

Sart woman in purdah in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, ca. 1910. Until the Russian revolution of 1917, "Sart" was the name for Uzbeks living in Kazakhstan.

Sart woman in purdah in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, ca. 1910. Until the Russian revolution of 1917, "Sart" was the name for Uzbeks living in Kazakhstan.

Studies on Lindozero (Laika, dog) (1915)

Studies on Lindozero (Laika, dog) (1915)

Self-portrait on the Karolitskhali River, ca. 1910. Prokudin-Gorskii in suit and hat, seated on rock beside the Karolitskhali River, in the Caucasus Mountains near the seaport of Batumi on the eastern coast of the Black Sea.

Self-portrait on the Karolitskhali River, ca. 1910. Prokudin-Gorskii in suit and hat, seated on rock beside the Karolitskhali River, in the Caucasus Mountains near the seaport of Batumi on the eastern coast of the Black Sea.

The joys of leaving your underpants at home

The joys of leaving your underpants at home

Map Wrap

Map Wrap