A Heroic Feat of a Nurse


This print showing a nurse helping a wounded Russian from a battlefield is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “After a brutal attack in a bloody battle, and despite the fierce resistance of the Germans, our wonderful heroes used bayonets to capture a German battery. After that, the Germans began an offensive using dense columns of soldiers, attempting to take the battery back, but they were again overpowered. Orderlies worked fearlessly in the heat of battle, and one of them bandaged the wounds of a soldier in the middle of the battle. The wounded soldier lifted the enemy flag and the nurse led him away from the battle. The soldiers who saw her feat took off their hats in reverence of her.” 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