Petrograd: Svobodnaia Rossiia, . Item #1461
16 pp. 25x17 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. In very good condition, spine restored, stains on the last leaf.
Very rare anti-monarchist lubok published between February and October Revolutions of 1917. The printer’s information had announced issue #2 to be published in the following week, but there is no evidence it did happen.
In 1917, plenty of anti-monarchist, anti-Romanov literature was dropped on the reader: ‘Autocratic Headsmen’, ‘Love Affairs of Nikolai Romanov’, ‘How the Tsar and the Ministers Sold Russia’, ‘The Tale of Grisha the Rasputny, Stupid Ministers and the Supreme Court’, etc. It was entertainment, even erotic commercial literature that was sold out immediately and enthusiastically spread among the Russian folk. Such editions became flawless propaganda denouncing previous leaders and decreasing the interest in traditional autocratic rule in general.
So-called ‘rasputiniada’ - all printed matters devoted to the ruinous influence of Grigorii Rasputin - was created by both right-wing and left-wing public figures. At the forefront, a blasphemous ‘Akathist to Grishka Rasputin’ was placed. It was printed on pages of central and provincial periodicals, and came out as separate ephemera with different designs. Crowds eagerly pounced on them, being attracted by catchy titles. Despite the relative freedom of the revolutionary times, some editions were forbidden to be issued because they were offensive or disgusting by accepted standards of morality and decency. Contemporaries were saying: “The mood of the people was unserious, they talked little about business, they read more about the amorous adventures of the tsars and ‘Akathist to Grishka Rasputin’. This literature was abundantly delivered by our own young people who lived in the city” and “soldiers didn’t read at all, some of them were leafing through lubok brochures like ‘Secrets of the Tsarskoye Selo Palace’ and so on”. Scandalous rags published various suspicious “documentary matters” and some of them were undeniable fakes. Rasputiniada was successfully staged and filmed soon after the February Revolution (Kolonitskii, B. The Tragic Erotica: Images of the Imperial Family in the Years of the First World War).
This lubok describes love affairs of the last Emperor of All Russia Nicholas II, or Nika-Milusha as the Russian satire named him, with his mistresses - ballet dancers Mathilde Kschessinska and Maria Labunskaia, as well as relations of empress Alexandra (Alisa) with her favorites: commander Alexander Orlov and “holy man” Grigorii Rasputin. Orlov is considered the real father of the only son of the empress while the unlimited power of the illiterate Rasputin became the main thing that discredited the reputation of the Romanov dynasty.
The front cover features naked Kschessinska, Alisa and Labunskaia who were depicted in the style of a sculpture ‘Three Graces’ with names on belts. The back cover shows a similar caricature of Nicholas, Orlov and Rasputin in clothes but with names on belts as well. A bottle of vodka sticks out of Nicholas’ pocket.
An extremely interesting source on contemporary propaganda that was spread through poor-quality editions of scandalous nature.
Worldcat doesn’t track this edition.