The Defeat of the Austrian Army Near L'viv


This print showing a battle between the Russian and Austrian armies near L’viv (in present-day Ukraine; at that time the city of Lemberg in Austria-Hungary) is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “According to the headquarters of the commander in chief, after a seven day battle, our army took advanced and heavily fortified positions near L’viv, 15–20 versts east of the city, and approached the main L’viv forts. After very heavy fighting on August 19, the Austrians fled in disarray, leaving behind light and heavy guns, artillery supplies, and field kitchens. Our avant-garde troops and cavalry pursued the enemy, who suffered huge losses in dead, wounded, or taken prisoner. The Austrian forces dedicated to the L’viv front consisted of 3rd, 11th, and 12th corps and parts of 7th and 14th corps. They appear to be completely destroyed. When retreating from Hnyla Lypa, the enemy was forced to leave behind an additional 31 guns. Our troops found all the roads cluttered with artillery supplies, wagons, and other cargoes. The total number of weapons we captured in the L’viv area is about 150 guns.” In the bottom left corner of the picture appears “№ 20,” meaning that by the time this print was published, this printing house had produced 20 war-related lubok pictures. This picture, like many others in the collection, was printed in the Moscow printing house of Ivan Sytin (1851–1934). By the 1880s, Sytin was the most popular and successful publisher of lubok pictures in Russia. He also published cheap popular books for workers and peasants, textbooks, and literature for children. The quality of this print is much better than many images from other printing houses—more colors and shades are neatly matched and more small details are available for the viewer. Lubok is a Russian word for popular prints created from woodcuts, engravings, etchings, or later, by using lithography. The prints were often characterized by simple, colorful graphics depicting a narrative, and could also include text. During World War I, lubok informed Russians about events on the frontlines, bolstered morale, and served as propaganda against enemy combatants.

Last updated: April 3, 2015