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Picture Book of the Week: Twilight of the Romanovs

A photographic essay across imperial Russia.

This image is taken from Twilight of the Romanovs: a Photographic Odyssey Across Imperial Russia by Philipp Blom and Veronica Buckley (Thames & Hudson, £34.95). Between 1900 and 1915, using a specially designed camera, Prokudin-Gorsky took hundreds of colour photographs throughout the Russian empire. Blom and Buckley track his peregrinations across Russia.

Prokudin-Gorsky’s pictures, they argue, show the “rich [and] fractured nature of Russian life. We see bourgeois grandeur of St Petersburg, the summer resorts of the Caucasus and the oil fields of Azerbaijan.” These photographs offer, write the authors, “a portrayal of “an empire unable to establish a stable identity for itself”.

[All images: Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky courtesy Thames & Hudson]