Travels Across Russia: 1889

J. Guthrie Watson’s ‘A Journey Across Russia’ Album

Among the many 19th-century photograph albums in the Department of Image Collections at the National Gallery of Art is this large volume of images collected by an English traveler, J. Guthrie Watson (c. 1850–1913), which documents his 1889 journey across the Russian Empire from Warsaw, Saint Petersburg, and Moscow to Crimea and the Caucasus. Images from this trip through what is now Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan include views of local people and numerous sites of historic importance.

The arrangement and order of the photographs in the album (followed here) may suggest Guthrie’s route. It is possible he traveled on the Trans-Caspian Railway that follows the path of the Silk Road through much of western Central Asia. Its construction began in 1879 during the expansion of the Russian Empire and arrived in Uzbekistan in 1888, the year before Watson embarked on his trip.


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