The Capture of an Austrian Airship


This print showing Russians firing on an Austrian airship is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “An Austrian airship heading toward Russia was spotted near the Russian-Austrian border. Our troops, despite their fierce fight with the enemy, saw the airship and fired at it forcefully. The airship was forced to land in an area occupied by our troops, and we captured it along with the military pilots. On August 8 the airship was placed on three cargo platforms that were joined together and was brought to Kiev.” 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: July 23, 2015