Rare Russian Empire photos to be featured

A close look at the Russian Empire will be featured in a collection of photography by Sergei Mikhailovich Produkin-Gorskii at a special exhibit at Les Beaux Arts Gallery at Round Hill Community Church, opening Jan. 13.

Mr. Produkin-Gorskii, 1863-1944, was a photographer credited with implementing the first color photographs in Russia. Expert have said that his photographs “offer a vivid portrait of a lost world of the Russian Empire at the eve of World War I and the coming revolution.”

With the support of Tsar Nicholas II, Mr. Produkin-Gorskii went on a photographic survey of Russia between 1909 and 1912, and again in 1915, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car. He photographed landscapes, medieval churches, monasteries, old towns and diverse ethnic people. He left Russia in 1918 and settled in Paris, France for the rest of his life.

Mr. Produkin-Gorskii created color photographs before color film existed. His unique technique consisted of shooting three photographs of the same subject, each time using a different color filter — red, green or blue. The photographs could then be shown in full color by simultaneously superimposing them on a screen with a what is referred to as a “magic lantern,” a specially designed projector that used the same three color filters.

For this exhibition, Mr. Produkin-Gorskii’s historic glass plates have been scanned and, through an innovative process known as digichromatography, were printed. Through digital technology, these superior color prints were made possible and for the first time in many decades, the public will be able to enjoy them.

The present collection of Mr. Produkin-Gorskii’s work has been made possible by the digital work of Arto O. Szabó, the Round Hill Community Church archivist. Les Beaux Arts Gallery at the Round Hill Community Church, is located at 395 Round Hill Road. The Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to noon. For more information, call 203-869-1091 or visit Roundhillcommunitychurch.org.

The exhibit will run from Jan. 13 through Feb. 14.

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