Out with the Old, In with the New

Russia has always been a country that fascinated me. They are like that mysterious, leather jacket wearing, brooding person standing in the corner at a party. No matter what you learn about them, there always seems to be some secret that is just out a reach. This articulates my feelings about Russia perfectly. No matter how much I learn about Russian culture, history, architecture, politics, and just about any other topic for that matter, I always want to learn more. There always seems to be something more, lurking just beneath the surface, just out of reach. So, if you would like, you can come along with me to try to discover a little more of the rich and complex Russian history from the past 100 years.

For my first blogpost, I examined photographs by Prokudin-Gorskii that were taken in the early 1900’s. The thing that is so striking about these pictures is that they are in beautiful color, taken in the early decades of the 20th century. Every photograph that he took is quite spectacular, but the one that caught my eye is called Three Generations.


The picture above is of A.P Kalganov, his son, and his granddaughter. The reason why I was so drawn to this picture is because it shows how the country was beginning to transition to a more modernized nation. The grandfather on the left wears traditional Russian clothes and a long masculine-looking beard, while the other two appear in more modern Westernized clothes. This picture was taken in 1910, just seven years before the Russian Revolution took place. To me, this foreshadows the changes that took place in the overthrowing of the final tsar of Russia, and the takeover by the Bolshevik Party. The Bolshevik Party worked to modernize Russia and “catch-up” to the rest of the world. So, getting back to the photograph above, the grandfather symbolizes the old, traditional way of Russian life under the rule of the tsar. The two on the right show the changes that were to come to Russia under the Bolshevik rule. One simple photograph was able to portray so much history. A big thank you to Sergei Mikhailovich Produkin-Gorskii for his fantastic work.

Permanent Record: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/prk2000000782/

Picture Titled: Three Generations, By Sergei Mikhailovich Produkin-Gorskii, 1910

Works Cited:



4 thoughts on “Out with the Old, In with the New

  1. There are some really great points here! The connection you made between the physical appearance of the subjects in the photograph and the state of the country were very easy to identify. I think your approach to this photograph was unique. The westernization of the country is often discussed, but evidence, such as clothing, is often ignored in the pursuit for grander examples. From your take on this photograph, it has made me wonder what the next generation looked like in comparison, the generation after the revolution.

  2. This is a really interesting picture, and I think you perfectly described why it is so intriguing. The Russian revolution ushered in a new era of thinking and culture, and in hindsight, this picture is a great example of foreshadowing of the revolution. In my blog, I argued that Russia has experienced many cultural, economic, and idealistic shifts since the mid 1800’s, and this picture is a great example of foreshadowing of another one of those shifts, the revolution.

  3. I think that you and I are totally on the same page when it comes to Russia as a whole. I always feel like there is something more that I need to understand. I used the same photograph as you with, for the most part, the same reasons. It is such a great visual example of the change that was taking place in late imperial Russia. The city of Zlatoust and the Arms Plant there that the younger two generations worked at. My research told me that they produced a lot of swords there. I thought that was another example of Russia modernizing, but yet still not being completely modern. Good job, and its really cool that we both were able to draw similar observations from the same photo.

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