Lost Russia

Photographing the Ruins of Russian Architecture

Lost Russia

Book Pages: 144 Illustrations: 71 b&w photographs Published: February 1995

Art and Visual Culture > Architecture, Photography, European Studies > Eastern Europe and Russia

Twentieth Anniversary Edition, with a new preface by the author, available in June 2015

The twentieth century in Russia has been a cataclysm of rare proportions, as war, revolution, famine, and massive political terror tested the limits of human endurance. The results of this assault on Russian culture are particularly evident in ruined architectural monuments, some of which are little known even within Russia itself. Over the past four decades William Craft Brumfield, noted historian and photographer of Russian architecture, has traveled throughout Russia and photographed many of these neglected, lost buildings, poignant and haunting in their ruin. Lost Russia provides a unique view of Brumfield’s acclaimed work, which illuminates Russian culture as reflected in these remnants of its distinctive architectural traditions.

Capturing the quiet, ineffable beauty that graces these buildings, these photographs are accompanied by a text that provides not only a brief historical background for Russian architecture, but also Brumfield’s personal impressions, thoughts, and insights on the structures he views. Churches and monasteries from the fifteenth to the twentieth century as well as abandoned, ruined manor houses are shown—ravaged by time, willful neglect, and cultural vandalism. Brumfield also illustrates examples of recent local initiatives to preserve cultural landmarks from steady decline and destruction.

Concluding with photographs of the remarkable log architecture found in Russia’s far north, Lost Russia is a book for all those concerned with the nation’s cultural legacy, history, and architecture, and with historic and cultural preservation generally. It will also interest those who appreciate the fine art of exceptional photography.


Lost Russia is Brumfield's shortest but most moving book. It could be subtitled ‘a meditative elegy in photographs and words.’ . . . William Brumfield's photographs can be looked at like going on an inspirational and edifying retreat. The images may or may not remain in your memory, but the subtle effect that they have on your psyche will.” — Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly

"The reader is offered a full, rich experience not only through what is seen and illustrated in the exquisite photographs, but also through the astute accounts of the journeys themselves, the impressions and personal reflections. . . . As well as an evocative journey in time, the book is an elegant art book." — Natalia Berg, East-West Review

"Brumfield is one of the leading Western scholars today in the history of Russian architecture." — Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, University of California, Berkeley

"William Brumfield’s Lost Russia provides a poignant account in words and in powerful images of the devastation imposed on the Russian landscape by the Soviet regime. He has managed to weave both media together into a seamless fabric." — Blair A. Ruble, Director, Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies


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Price: $37.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

William Craft Brumfield is Professor of Slavic Studies at Tulane University. A master photographer, he has pursued his interest in Russian architecture for over forty years. He is the author of several books, including Architecture at the Ends of the Earth: Photographing the Russian North (also published by Duke University Press),  A History of Russian Architecture, Origins of Modernism in Russian Architecture, and Gold in Azure

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface to the 1995 Edition  vii

Preface to Twentieth Anniversary Edition  xi

Defining an Architectural Tradition  13

Into the Provinces  19

Meditation on the Ruins  125

References  129

Index  131
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Winner,  2014 Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachev Foundation Prize "for outstanding contributions to the preservation of the historic and cultural heritage of Russia".

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1568-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1557-5
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