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University of Basel

Claussen-Simon Ph.D. Fellow

Empire of Images – Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii’s Colour Photographs from the Russian Empire to the Early Soviet Union and the Interwar Emigration in Paris (ca. 1900-1948)


To defend his motherland against the challenges of modernisation, the Russian aristocrat Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii developed the idea of a photographic collection for patriotic homeland studies in 1906 and was soon supported by tsarist authorities. After the revolution, the images were also used in the early Soviet Union for promoting communism. Finally, following Prokudin-Gorskii’s emigration to Paris in 1921, they served the creation of another image of Russia – the lost and destroyed homeland. The study aims to uncover the utilisation of these photographs for legitimising different ideologies during the mentioned time periods. It investigates how several protagonists and organisations tried to use, re-write, and invent visual traditions and cultural codes of meaning for creating their own distinct mental maps of Russia. Henning also aims to embed this Russian project into a broader European history of photography.

Henning Lautenschläger is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and currently a Ph.D. fellow at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz, Germany. He holds a Master’s degree in European History from the University of Basel and a B.A. in History and Eastern Slavonic Studies of the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg im Breisgau. His research interests focus on the cultural history of photography and the entanglement of this medium in nation building and identity politics before World War I, as well as on the New Imperial History of the Russian Empire, and the history of Central Asia.  

Lautenschläger, Henning: Szathmari. In: De Gruyter Аllgemeines Künstlerlexikon. Die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker. Berlin 2020 (forthcoming).

Lautenschläger, Henning: Prokudin-Gorskij. In: De Gruyter Аllgemeines Künstlerlexikon. Die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker. Volume 97: Pretsch-Rauh. Berlin 2018, S. 69-70.

Lautenschläger, Henning; Sorg, Moritz; Trecker, Max: Sowjetisch in der Form, „usbekisch“ im Inhalt. Geschichtspolitik und Musealisierung in Usbekistan, in: Osteuropa 66 (2016), H. 6-7, S. 237-252.

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