The Great European War


This print showing a Russian advance is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “During the second invasion of the Kingdom of Poland by the Germans, fighting began near Łódź on November 3, and continued on November 11, 12, and 13. The army of General Hindenburg was surrounded by our glorious heroes from all sides. The Germans were trapped as if in a bag. Our attacks now, and as always, cause terrible damage to the Germans. Their losses numbered in the tens of thousands. In addition, we took about 30,000 German prisoners.” 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: July 23, 2015