Revolution from bottom view

Ivan Vladimirov: Burning the Tsar’s images and eagles, 5 May 1917.

November seventh, the anniversary of the October Revolution. The decisive celebration of our school years. Lenin left Smolny, and made a call to the revolutionaries. They surrounded the Winter Palace. At the cannon-shot of Aurora, the revolution began. The cadets desperately defended the palace, but the revolutionaries entered, and put an end to the rule of the Tsar (as they did not burden us with the February Revolution and the Provisional Government). And no word was made about Gergely Bors.

On the 100th anniversary of the revolution we remember this day and all that followed, with a different, less well-known chronicle.

Ivan Vladimirov: Destruction in the Winter Palace, 1918

Several years ago we published some of the watercolors made about the revolution by Ivan Alekseevich Vladimir (1869-1947). That we now return to him, is not only due to the anniversary, but rather to the fact, that in the meantime more of this series was published on the Russian web, and the history of these odd images has also been revealed.

Because it is odd indeed, that Ivan Vladimirov, the historical and battle painter of the Soviet era, awarded with the Red Banner Order, member of the Revolutionary Artists’ Association, illustrator of the official historiography of the Civil War published in the 1930s, portrait painter of Lenin, Stalin and Gorki, and decorator of the Soviet pavilion of the 1937 World Expo, also published such images, which clearly demonstrate the wickedness and cruelty of the revolutionaries as well as his sympathy for their victims.

Ivan Vladimirov: On the streets of Petrograd, 1918

Graduated both in the military and the fine arts school in the 1890s, Vladimirov soon became an official battle painter of the Russian army. He took part in the Russian-Japanese war of 1904, and also in the First World War. As his mother was British, he had good contacts in London, where The Graphic asked him to regularly report from the Eastern front. Over the course of the war, more of a hundred of his paintings, signed as “John Wladimiroff”, were published in the journal, which in 1918 also included a photo of him with this caption: “Mr. Wladimiroff enables The Graphic to be the only paper in the country giving realistic drawings of the revolution”.

As we can see, the drawings offer a truly realistic picture of the revolution, also due to the fact, that Vladimirov, as a member of the police of Petrograd between 1917 and 1918, was an eye witness of all what he painted. His opinion may be reflected by the captions of some of the drawings published in The Graphic: “Blight of Bolshevik Barbarism”, “The chaos resulting from Leninite Misrule”, “Anarchy in Russia”, “Revolution, rapine and robbery”. However, the series of the illustrations was interrupted in the summer of 1918. Vladimirov might have realized that the situation, which he considered transitional, will be persistent. But he did not stop portraiting the revolution.

At that time he might have got in contact with Frank Golder, who came to Russia to oversee the food aid program launched by the later US President Herbert Hoover. Golder also collected material for the Hoover War Library, set up by his commissioner at Stanford University, and considered Vladimirov’s images as excellent contemporary documentation. He bought one after the other, and after his leaving, another colleague of the program, Donald Renshaw continued the collection. The signature of one picture refers to him: “To Mr. Renshaw, a souvenir of the hungry years in Petrograd, with my sincere regards. John Wladimiroff, 19 June 1923”.

Ivan Vladimirov: Plundering the aid wagon of the Red Cross, 1922

Today, thirty-seven “revolutionary images” by Vladimirov are seen in Hoover Institution. During his lifetime, his signature was covered on them, to avoid his getting into trouble. Ten further pictures appeared in auction in 1953, and they are now kept in Brown University in Rhode Island. These images open a unique window to the horror and suffering which was denied by contemporary propaganda, and which could not be evoked so vividly either by later historiography.

Ivan Vladimirov: The revolutionary tribunal condemns to death the landowner and the priest, 1919

Vladimirov’s “secret painting” arrived home to Russia only this year. On the 100th anniversary of the revolution, the Moscow Museum of Contemporary History  organized for the first time a comprehensive exhibition of his works made during the revolution and the Civil War. The paintings kept in the US were just reproduced, but they also exhibited a dozen of his paintings from Vladimir Ruga’s private collection, which depict how the new “ruling class” expropriates and destroys the culture built up over the centuries.

Ivan Vladimirov: Reading the Pravda, ca. 1918-1923

rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev rev

Ivan Vladimirov: The last way, 1918.
On the first version, kept in the USA, the painter’s signature was covered

1 comentario:

Minnesotastan dijo...

In the Vladimirov painting, the man appears to be texting someone on his cell phone