Russian Lubok of First Conflict in the Russo-Japanese War
"[Russian Lubok - Vasya Flotiskiy - Vasya of the Fleet]",
Subject: Port Arthur, China
Period: 1904 (dated)
Color: Printed Color
21.5 x 13.6 inches
54.6 x 34.5 cm
This propaganda broadsheet illustrates the Battle of Port Arthur in February 1904, which marked the commencement of the Russo-Japanese War. In the image, a Russian Naval sailor and Army officer sit in Port Arthur, relaxing and smoking pipes, impervious to shots fired by Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō, who commands a fleet of ships like marionettes. Uncle Sam steps close to monitor the situation without taking any action, while a rotund John Bull appears to peddle munitions to Japan. Printed by Litografiya V V Nessler and published by Torgo-Posrednicheskaya Kontora, both in St. Petersburg.
This broadsheet is one of the satirical lubki that became popular in Russia during the Russo-Japanese War between 1904-05, before they were censored by the Russian government. The lubki typically depicted an overconfident Russia and often relied on racist imagery. They included limited text, often written in verse, which appealed to a wide audience. The Russian lubok of the Russo-Japanese War is often credited as alerting the Japanese to Russian weaknesses enabling the Japanese victory over Russia. The overtly nationalistic and optimistic lubki predicted an easy victory over Japan, which then dealt a severe blow to Russian nationalism after losing the war.
Light toning with a couple of tiny edge tears that have been archivally repaired on verso.