Famed photographer shows disappearing world through early use of color

This famous photo is known as “Three Generations.” It portrays Andrey Kalganov, a former lead specialist at the Zlatoust arms factory, at the age of 72. To his left are his son and granddaughter, who were also employed at the factory. A diapositive of this photograph was given to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev by U.S. President Ronald Reagan at the end of the 1980s. This is the only copy that is kept in Russia; it is stored in the Nizhny Tagil Ethnographic Museum

This famous photo is known as “Three Generations.” It portrays Andrey Kalganov, a former lead specialist at the Zlatoust arms factory, at the age of 72. To his left are his son and granddaughter, who were also employed at the factory. A diapositive of this photograph was given to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev by U.S. President Ronald Reagan at the end of the 1980s. This is the only copy that is kept in Russia; it is stored in the Nizhny Tagil Ethnographic Museum

Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky
The scientist and photographer Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1943) worked out a unique method for rendering color years before color film became available on the market.
At the beginning of the 20th century the factory’s production increased and since then has included table knives of all kinds: the catalogue counted 19 implements for cutting bread alone. // A pile of weapons in the factory’s Arsenal Museum
The chaos of the 1917 Russian Revolution caused the factory to shut down. Work picked up again after the Russian Civil War broke out: between 1918 and 1919 alone the plant manufactured about 50,000 daggers and shashkas, a Russian type of saber. // A view of the factory and the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity
In 1990 the state-run armory plant went bankrupt, but privatization in subsequent years gave new life to this old craft and the production of edged steel weapons began anew. // Zlatoust seen through the trees from Butylovka Mountain
Prokudin-Gorsky died in 1943 and five years later his heirs sold what was left of his collection to the U.S. Library of Congress. Since the equipment he used to display his pictures was no longer available, for many years it was impossible to enjoy them in their intended state. Only with the advent of digital technology were his works finally shown to the world as they were meant to be. // Chapel of St. Nicholas in the village of Vetluga
The U.S. Library of Congress website hosts a virtual photo gallery titled, “The Empire That Was Russia” (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/), where it is possible to travel back in time and see what the country looked like at the beginning of the 20th century. // A view of Zlatoust from the west
Here are some of Prokudin-Gorsky’s best color snapshots from the town of Zlatoust, located on the Ay River 100 miles from Chelyabinsk and 1,000 miles from Moscow. The city was founded in 1754 when the construction of the ironworks began here. Since 1815, the city’s life has revolved around the armory plant, which is well known in Russia for the production of steel weapons. // Zlatoust Railway Station
At first, it was difficult to reach the desired level of production with only Russian masters, which is why the factory initially employed foreigners. In 1819, for example, 146 foreign masters worked in the factory, coming principally from the German towns of Solingen, Klingenthal, Elberfeld and Danzig.  // Workshop for the manufacture of sheaths
The revolution also affected Prokudin-Gorsky’s personal life. Having been a favorite of the tsar meant that his position in the new regime was insecure. He fled the country in 1918. // Church of Joan the Baptist in the village of Vetluga near Zlatoust
When World War II began the demand for edged weapons from the frontlines increased dramatically. In 1941 alone factories produced more than 135,000 units. // The Arsenal Museum
This picture shows the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and its belfry, the central square and the factory against the background of Taganay Mountains. The plant was founded on December 16, 1815 and it produced sabers, cuirassier and dragon broadswords, hatchets, hunting knives and finely decorated edged weapons
Kalganov started working at the factory in 1853 and was made its lead master in 1859. The description to the photograph reports that, “he had the honor of offering bread and salt to His Majesty the Emperor Nicholas II.” This probably occurred in 1904 during the tsar’s visit to the factory at the time of the Russo-Japanese War
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