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.