Color photography as we know it was not possible in 20th century Russia. Instead, Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky created a remarkable process to capture his subjects in this way. He took three separate images — one with a red filter, one with a green filter and one with a blue filter. He later projected these filters onto a screen, superimposing the images to create the images we now have at our fingertips.
Nicholas II took a liking to his photography, and he supported Prokudin-Gorsky’s documentation of all corners of his empire. After the 1917 Russian Revolution that toppled the Tsar government and created the Bolshevik government, the photographer went into exile. The only thing he took with him was his collection of roughly 2,000 glass-plate negatives and a photograph album. The U.S. Library of Congress purchased his photos in 1948 and them in 1980.