Portrait of Lenin

Description

This portrait of Lenin is surrounded by two figures representing industry and agriculture. It was possibly the cover for a diary or calendar.

Popular discontent against Russia's Tsar had been simmering for years. Finally, in 1917 – with Russia now embroiled in the Great War and food running out – came revolution. After a confused few months following the Tsar's removal, power was seized in a coup by the Bolsheviks, a small but disciplined Communist group led by Vladimir Ulyanov, or 'Lenin' (1870–1924). The army, supported by Western powers, was hostile to them, but in 1921, the Bolsheviks triumphed. They set about revolutionising the country, which became the USSR in 1923.

Although religion was abolished in favour of atheism after the revolution, the techniques used by painters of icons (traditional religious images) were used here to make Lenin look almost like a saint.

Full title:
65. Chislennik [from A Collection of posters issued by the Soviet government.]
Created:
c. 1918–21
Format:
Photograph / Illustration / Image
Creator:
Unknown
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
Cup.645.a.6.

Full catalogue details

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British modernism and the idea of Russia

Article by:
Matthew Taunton
Themes:
European influence, Capturing and creating the modern, Power and conflict

Russian art, dance and music influenced many modernist writers in the first half of the 20th century, while the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 heightened both communist and anti-communist feeling in Britain. Matthew Taunton explores the influence of Russia on British modernism.

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