March 16, 2018 the exhibition "The expanses of Russia in the color photography of Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky" which already visited last autumn Frankfurt, Berlin and Dresden and was a great success was opened in Leipzig. The exposition presents 40 of more than two thousand photographs stored in the electronic collections of the Presidential Library.
This is the most complete collection of works by Prokudin-Gorsky, officially given to the Presidential Library by the Library of Congress. After the revolution and the civil war, this collection, like many other documents and cultural values, turned out to be abroad. The images on which Russia is imprinted, returned to our country after the digitized silent films of the 1920s, found in the State Film Fund of Russia, were handed to the American side.
Prokudin-Gorsky owes the appearance of his priceless collection to the will of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II, who decided to create a portrait of the Russian Empire through color photographs. To organize and equip a large-scale expedition, considerable money was paid from the treasury. Between 1909 and 1915, Prokudin-Gorsky made dozens of trips to remote corners of the country.
As a rule, all shots were conducted in the summer, preliminary processing was carried out on the same day, often delaying until late at night, and if the result did not require re-shooting, the expedition went on. Sergei Mikhailovich did not have enough government money, so part of the costs had to take over.
Prokudin-Gorsky was a representative of the nobility, well aware of his origin and anticipating future social changes - it helped him to capture and thereby immortalize the centuries-old culture of his homeland. "Photography, I must admit, the art of protocol nature", - leads his words the author of the article "Outstanding photographer" S. Garanin. However, it was this "protocol" verified by the master that became for us, in due course, the most valuable document of the history of culture. "By fixing on the photosensitive plate the creation of artistic inspiration in all the luxury of its colors", the photographer wrote, we give the precious document to the offspring".
The works of Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky bear not only great historical and cultural value, but also applied: restorers on them can recreate what was once lost. So, in 2013 the Presidential Library handed over to the “Staraya Ladoga” Museum-Reserve digitized photographs of the monuments of the first capital of Russia, thanks to which it is possible to restore and preserve sacred objects - for example, murals in St. George's Church, one of the few surviving examples of Russian frescoes of the XII century, some of which were lost three hundred years ago.
Until the beginning of the eighties of the twentieth century, the collection of preserved slides by Prokudin-Gorsky remained invaluable, and only with the advent of modern technologies it became possible to show color photographs of the master to a wide audience. Thanks to the Presidential Library, the largest repository of documents on the history of Russian statehood, the work of Prokudin-Gorsky became available to the maximum number of people. These days they are introduced to the inhabitants of Leipzig.
On the portal of the Presidential Library a documentary film "The Color of Time", dedicated to the life and work of S. M. Prokudin-Gorsky and his contribution to the development of color photography and cinematography, is available.