Orient Station: „Russia before the Revolution (1909 – 1915)” – photography exhibition

Russia before the Revolution (1909 – 1915) – Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorski’s colour photography exhibition. 

6-10 July 2016,  outdoor exhibition available at all times |The Hartwig Alley

OPENING – 6th of July 2016 / at 18:00. 

The exhibition can be viewed until 31 July 2016.


Sergei Mikhailovich  Prokudin- Gorski (1863-1944) is famous  in Russia for having taken the first and only colour photograph of Leo Tolstoy.  It drew the attention of Tsar Nikolai II.  Subsequent meetings with the Tsar and his family were significant moments in Prokudin-Gorski’s life. The Tsar offered him financial support and the power to create what later became his life’s achievement.

In the years 1909-1915, Prokudin-Gorski journeyed across 11 districts of the Russian Empire documenting architecture: palaces, villages, cities, medieval churches,  the developing infrastructures, manufactures and railway.  Mos of all he captures people, their portraits are delightfully natural and reveal cultural variety.

Prokudin-Gorski used a self-made camera that he exposed using glass plate covered in black and white emulsion, he took series of three shots and for each  applied a differently coloured filter (red, green and blue). To see the effects of his work he needed a special projector  that he also invented.  It contained three captures that were exposed to the same filters.

After the 1918 revolution, Prokudin-Gorski left Russia and headed to Norway, then to England. He had no reason to return to Russia any more. After the death of the Tsar and his family and political changes, he settled in Paris and died there in 1944.

In 1948, the  US Library of Congress purchased the Prokudin-Gorsky’s collection  from his descendants. In April 2001, the Library presented the exhibition “The Empire that was Russia”.  For the purposes of the exhibition, Gorsky’s photography collection was especially carefully prepared. Glass negatives were scanned and colour prints  were made. They are available online on the Library’s website.

The exhibition in Lublin will show some of the portraits taken by Prokudin-Gorski during his journeys. They show he ethnic variety of the Russian Empire, and thanks to Gorsky we can see it in colour.

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorski’s  exhibition of photography to be presented in Lublin has been prepared basing on the collection in the Library of Congress, courtesy of Mr Jean Swetchine, Prokudin-Gorsky’s grandson.

Photos: Marcin Butryn

Photos: Robert Grablewski:

Photos: Kamila Pitucha