Century old Russians – Now Available In Color

That man, as we’re sure you already know, is Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm. Which may or may not be interesting, what is remarkable is that this portrait of him was taken in 1910. One hundred years ago, before any world wars, before the Russians revolted, it was even 18 years before sliced bread. We’re so used to images from this period being in black and white that these photographs appear almost ‘not quite right’ to the eye, as if staged or heavily manipulated.

A group of women in Dagestan, ca. 1910.

A chapel sits on the site where the city of Belozersk was founded in ancient times, photographed in 1909.

They were taken by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, who spent three years (1909-1912) conducting a photographic survey of the Russian Empire for Tsar Nicholas II. He used a strange technique of “…..three black and white images taken in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images.” Leaving us, a century later with an almost freakishly real vision of Russian life in the early 20thC.

Prokudin-Gorskii rides along on a handcar outside Petrozavodsk on the Murmansk railway along Lake Onega near Petrozavodsk in 1910.

A metal truss bridge on stone piers, part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, crossing the Kama River near Perm, Ural Mountains Region, ca. 1910.

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