“The work in color. Three- and four-color process. Art posters and open letters in color from life. Printing in gold. Exact reproduction of all sorts of paintings in color.” A seemingly common advertisement, a little old-fashioned though, as no one has called a post card an open letter for a long time. It was given by chemist, inventor, teacher and public figure, a member of the Imperial Russian Geographical and Imperial Russian Technical Societies, and more importantly – a pioneer of the color photography in Russia Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky. he was born in the city of Murom on 30 August 1863.
The greatest photography guru opened a printing house and a laboratory specializing in color printing in Saint Petersburg in 1901. Before that was the Institute of Technology where Prokudin-Gorsky studied under Mendeleev, Berlin and Paris where he continued his chemical education and cooperated with the leading photographers of his time and together developed color photography methods. He then invented some equipment required for color photography, including a camera and a projector designed to show images on the screen. And he took pictures in Crimea, Caucasus, Finland, and Turkestan. But it was merely a prelude to the grand project — to take color photos of his contemporary Russia, its culture, history and nature. Tsar Nicholas II supported the project but did not give money and Prokudin-Gorsky had to pay for all his journeys and shoots out of pocket. Samarkand and Urals, Volga and Solovki, monuments in honor of the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov and locations relating to the 1812 War were all captured in Prokudin-Gorsky’s color photos. Today, they are mostly stored at the Library of Congress, which purchased them from the photographer’s heirs after his death in emigration.