A Heroic Feat by Non-commissioned Officer Avvakum Volkov, Who Captured the Austrian Flag


This print showing Russian troops fighting Austrians is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “Avvakum Volkov, a volunteer non-commissioned officer, Full Cavalier of Saint George, was brought to one of the Moscow military hospitals. For his outstanding bravery he was granted a promotion and a reward of 500 rubles. Volkov earned his last two honors in battles against the Austrians. Accompanied by seven soldiers, Volkov went on a reconnaissance mission and soon encountered Austrian dragoons, nine enlisted men, one officer, and a flag bearer. Volkov and his party attacked the Austrians. Volkov decapitated the officer, engaged three dragoons and the flag bearer, and, with the enemy's captured flag, headed back with his comrades. On the way they encountered a second Austrian patrol. Another desperate fight ensued, and ended with the flight of the enemy. Volkov was wounded by a bullet in the stomach. In the Russo-Japanese War Volkov particularly distinguished himself in the Battle of Mukden, where he proved himself a dashing, fearless, and smart scout, for which he was awarded all four classes of the Saint George Cross. In this war, the hero was wounded several times, and one of the wounds still has not healed.” 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. Lubok gained popularity in Russia beginning in the late 17th century. The prints, which often depicted narratives from a historical event, literature, or a religious tale, were used to make such stories accessible to illiterate people. These expressive prints had a wide range in tone, from humorous to instructive to sharp political and social commentary. The images were clear and easy to understand, and some of the pictures were serialized, predecessors of the modern comic strip. Prints could be reproduced inexpensively, and were thus a way for the masses to display art at home. Initially, this artistic style was not taken seriously by the upper classes, but by the end of the 19th century, lubok was so well-regarded that it inspired professional artists. During World War I, lubok informed Russians about events on the frontlines, bolstered morale, and served as propaganda against enemy combatants.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

A. P. Korkin & A. V. Beideman & Company Printing and Lithographic Firm, Moscow


Title in Original Language

Геройский подвиг унтер-офицера Аввакума Волкова, взявшаго австрийское знамя

Type of Item

Last updated: April 3, 2015