Red Petrograd

This cover image to a booklet commemorating the second anniversary of the October Revolution depicts the glorious defiance of ‘Red Petrograd’, a city whose designation by Trotsky as “the torch of the Revolution” is here given powerful visual representation. Two Bolshevik workers, physically lean and muscular, triumphantly raise aloft the symbolic and resplendent beacon of Petrograd, positioning it high above the majestic mountains of the nation.  The torch’s roaring flames encircle the scene, evoking forged, cyclical unity, while framing ears of wheat and protective thorns suggest natural abundance and fortification. 1919 proved a crucial year for Petrograd in the course of the civil war, with the successful defence of the city by the Red Army against a 20,000 strong Imperial force a critical blow to the Whites.  The overhead banner launches the familiar Marxist rallying call: “Proletarians of all countries, unite!”, completing an image that is charged with intense ideological fervour.

Krasnyi Petrograd (1919)  CCA.54.1071

caption by James Livingstone

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