The Capture of Yaroslav


This print showing a vast battle scene and the capture of Yaroslav (present-day Jarosław, Poland) is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “Several battles in early September ended with a capture of the Sandomierz-Radomyśl Wielki area. Here, the San River merges with the Vistula River. The enemy wanted to escape from pursuit behind the San River and so assumed a heavily fortified position at Przheshov. A terrible battle followed. On September 3, our troops captured bridgeheads and crossings, crossed the bridge over the San, and reached Yaroslav and Przemyśl. Our heavy artillery stopped at Yaroslav and started shelling the city. The bombardment lasted for two days, and on September 5, Yaroslav burned. However, the enemy continued to fight back. The battle was so intense and continuous that the dead were not removed for four days. On September 6, we captured five fortifications on the right bank of the San River near Yaroslav. The next morning, the battle continued fiercely at all fortifications. The enemy fired at us from trenches and armored vehicles, but our artillery forced them out of the trenches and they retreated. In the evening of September 8, we captured Yaroslav, and on the morning of September 9, our troops entered the city.” 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.

Last updated: June 9, 2015