This book In the Time of the Russian Empire introduces the reader to the splendid work of the photographers-researchers who collaborated with Russia’s Museum of Ethnography. The Museum of Ethnography in Saint-Petersburg is one of the largest museums of ethnography in the world; the greater part of its photographic collection is made up of images that date from the early 1850s - right up to the present day. The photographic library of the museum counts more than 200,000 images (both negatives and prints). Because of the subject matter and their realization, this very varied collection reflects the history and culture of the 158 ethnic groups to be found in Russia and its bordering countries.
A very particular place in the collection is reserved for ethnographic photography. Most of the photographs date from the end of the 19th or beginning of the 20th century and are totally unknown to the general public. This publication makes public the work of the most brilliant photographers (several of whom were ethnography researchers themselves) who were active at the very beginning of the last century: A.N. Pavlovitch, N.M. Moguiliansky, K.M. Serjpoutovsky, S.M. Dudine, S.I Rudenko, A.A. Makarenko and V.N. Vasiliev.
Their work forms the basis of the first photographic collections devoted to the North of Russia, the South and Center of Russia, the people of Central Asia, the Caucus and Siberia. All the photographers took part in expeditions that took place in areas far from the Russian Empire. Their art became a new step in the preservation and conception of the facts relating to the lives of Russians, Lezgins, Avartsi, Kyrgyses, Kazakhs, Turkmen, Khanty, Mansy, Nenets, Evenkis, Orotchi, Aynis.
The Museum counts approximately 600 images taken by Pavlovitch, 200 by Moguiliansky, more than a thousand by Serjpoutovsky, Dudine, Rudenko and more than 500 works by Makarenko and Vasiliev.
The documentary fidelity of the photographs presented and their informative and aesthetic side is explained by the media chosen to reflect the world which, in turn, is based on a perfect knowledge of culture and traditions of very different peoples. Everywhere these photographers and researchers worked, they were able to create this unique image of Russia at the end of the 19th or beginning of the 20th centuries - and write the life and story of the existence of simple people.
Preface: A brief introduction to the photographic collection of the Russian Museum of Ethnography, St-Petesrburg (Vladimir Grussmann, Director of the Museum).
Introduction: Photography at the service of ethnography in the Russian empire before WW1 (K. Solovyeva).
Chapter 1: Moguilyanski in Ukraine and Belorussia (the current Belarus)
Chapter 2: Pavlovich in Russia
Chapter 3: Serjpoutovsky in the Caucus
Chapter 4: Dudine in Central Asia
Chapter 5: Rudenko in Western and southernmost Siberia
Chapter 6: Makarenko in Eastern Siberia
Chapter 7: Vasiliev on the Amour river and the Sakhaline peninsula
Postscript: "Objectivity and the Pen, or Subjectivity on the Ground" - essay on the privileged relationship that binds ethnography and photography (E. Désveaux).
Director of the Department of Photography at the Russian Museum of Ethnography.
An ethnologist, he is professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris) and Associaed Professor at the University of Indiana (Bloomington). He was Guest Professor to the Humboldt University in Berlin (2007-2009) having been Scientific Director at the Musée du Quai Branly (2001-2006). Passionate for Claude Lévi-Strauss - on whom he has written two books (Quadratura americana, essai d’anthropologie lévi-straussienne, 2001, and Au-delà du structuralisme, six médiations sur Claude Lévi-Strauss, 2008) - Désveaux was Curator of the exhibition Kodiak, Alaska, les masques de la collection Alphonse Pinard - presented in Paris in 2002. He is currently preparing a major study on the art of the Indians of North America - a subject on which he is one of the few French specialists.
The Museum of Ethnography
It is one of the largest museums of ethnography in the world; most of its photographic collections are made up of images that date from the start of the 1850s - right up to the present day. The photographic library of the museum counts more than 200,000 images (both negatives and prints). Because of the subject matter and realization, this very varied collection reflects the history and culture of the 158 ethnic groups to be found in Russia and its bordering countries.