The State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSPHOTO and the Russian Museum of Ethnography present the exhibition “Dmitry Yermakov. Writing with Light. Works by Tiflis Photographer of the Late 19th and Early 19th Centuries.”

The history of the development of photography in the Russian Empire in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries is impossible to imagine without the contribution of Russian photographer, traveler, and entrepreneur, Dmitry Ivanovich Yermakov. His legacy is of exceptional importance for the history and culture of Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Persia, and Turkey. Having worked in these countries as part of archaeological, ethnographic, topographic, and geographical expeditions from the mid-1860s to the 1910s, Yermakov created more than 40,000 glass negatives and more than 120 photographic albums.

Dmitry Ivanovich Yermakov was born in the Caucasus in 1846. In the early 1860s, having completed a one-year course in military topography at the headquarters of the Separate Caucasian Corps, he acquired topographic survey skills and mastered publishing. In the late 1860s, Yermakov, together with the artist P. P. Kolchin, opened his first portrait photo studio in Tiflis. His cooperation with Kolchin had an impact on the establishment on Yermakov’s recognizable style, in which documentary authenticity coexisted with artistic expressiveness. At the same time, Yermakov took up ethnographic photography, while also engaging with the study of languages ​​and cultures of the East. This theme became dominant in the photographer’s work.

From the beginning of the 1870s on, Yermakov participated in numerous expeditions organized by the Caucasian Department of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, the Moscow Archaeological Society, the headquarters of the Caucasian Military District, and the Caucasian Branch of the Imperial Moscow Archaeological Society. These trips resulted in unique photographic works depicting the types and cultures of many ethnic groups in the Caucasus region, Central Asia, and Persia.

After the death of D. I. Yermakov in 1916, his extensive legacy was forgotten for a long time. It is only now, thanks to joint museum exhibition projects, that the audience can fully appreciate the significance of Yermakov’s heritage and his excellence as a photographer.

The exhibition includes more than a hundred authentic photographic prints by D. I. Ermakov from the collections of the State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSPHOTO and the Russian Museum of Ethnography. A small part of the photographs on display was published in newspapers, magazines, and books on the history and culture of the countries of the Caucasus region, shown at international and Russian exhibitions during the photographer’s lifetime, while most of the works are presented to the public for the first time.