Russian revolutionary plate

St Petersburg, Russia, 1921

This painted plate with its striking design was made in Russia at the Imperial Porcelain Factory, St Petersburg.

The plate was made in 1901 but was never decorated and remained in the factory, as a white-glazed blank. Twenty years later, after the Russian revolution had taken place and the Imperial family had been deposed, it was decorated in the same manufacturing works. By this time, the works had been renamed the State Porcelain Factory and the city of St Petersburg was known as Petrograd.

This plate is a propaganda piece for the Communist revolution in Russia. To the left, a worker, painted in the revolutionary colour red, tramples a Russian word underfoot. The Cyrillic letters running across the plate from left to right spell out the word Kapital. Or capitalism, the economic system the new regime sought to eradicate.

Communist Russia would no longer have private individuals creating and distributing goods. The means of economic production would be brought into the people’s hands, and the red factory in the background was now owned by the state.

The colour red and the youthful figure of the worker marching toward a bright future with a tool in his hand are visual motifs found on many decorative objects from this era. It is a sign of a dynamic and modern state which has just reinvented itself.


revolutionary plate

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Object details

Width: 24.8 cm
Depth: 2.87 cm


1990, 0506.1

Room 48: Europe 1900 to now


    J. Rudoe, Decorative Arts 1850-1950. A Catalogue of the British Museum Collection, (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

    See this object in our Collection database online

    Further reading

    N. Lobanov-Rostocsky, Revolutionary Ceramics: Soviet Porcelain 1919-1927 (New York, 1990)

    D. King, Red Star over Russia: a Visual History of the Soviet Union (London, 2010)