A pioneer of colour photography

I’m sorry there’s been such a long wait to find out about the mystery man of my last blog post! He is Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, famous throughout Russia and beyond for his pioneering work in the development of colour photography, and for his travels all over the Russian Empire, recording landscapes and daily life.

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I have encountered his work many times over the past few years. Several of his images of Russian girls in peasant dress were used to illustrate the Encyclopedia of World Dress I worked on. During a trip to Russia in 2011 with a group from the Textile Society we visited a tiny museum in the town of Kirzhach which celebrated Yuri Gagarin, first man in space, (who died in an aviation accident nearby) and also S M Prokudin-Gorskii, who was born on his family’s estate near Kirzhach in 1863.

Many of the places I visited by river in May 2013, such as Uglich and Yaroslavl, feature in his photographs.  It is fascinating to see to what extent views have changed between the early 1900s and today. And on my latest trip in August 2013, I found a display about him in, of all places, the museum of gold embroidery in Torzhok, showing pictures he had taken of that picturesque small town. More about all this later, but meanwhile have a look at this website outlining a research project about Prokudin-Gorskii.

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Church of the Fyodorovskaya Mother of God, Yaroslavl. 1911

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