These haunting color images of Imperial Russia show a world on the verge of revolution and about to change forever.
Imperial Russia, one of the largest empires that the world has ever seen, thrived from 1720 all the way until 1917. It stretched across three continents, encompassed diverse lands and people, and crushed Napoleon when he was reckless enough to attempt to conquer it.
But, ultimately, the Russian Revolution of 1917 would put an end to Imperial Russia, bringing a long era of history to a close. During the imperial period, Russia had waged wars, conquered surrounding lands, and produced some of the most well-known, and highly feared, monarchs in modern history.
Leaders like Catherine the Great and Tsar Alexander II brought Imperial Russia to the forefront of global power and helped shape history in ways that can still be felt today. However, at the same time, these monarchs presided over a system that kept many in poverty, put upon by a system that propped up a fortunate few.
Finally, in 1917, two revolutions dismantled the monarchy, swept the communist Bolsheviks into power, and closed the book on the Russian Empire. Soon, much of what existed before the revolution would be no more.
But not long before everything changed, two photographers, Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky and Piotr Vedenisov, managed to capture life as it was lived by the people of Russia before the revolution — and they did it in full color.
These photos show farmers, families, houses, places of worship, and altogether reveal a Russian way of life that would soon be lost to history. See some of the most stunning and eye-opening color photos that Produkin-Gorsky and Vedenisov ever took in the gallery below.