Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99
Diameter: 23.500 cm
Room 48: Europe 1900 to now
Veniamin Pavlovich Belkin, porcelain plate
Petrograd (now St Petersburg), Russia, designed AD 1919, made AD 1920
Celebrating the 2nd anniversary of the Russian Revolution
After the Russian Revolution of October 1917, factories were nationalized and artists created designs for ceramics, textiles and posters celebrating the founding of the new Soviet Republic. This plate was made at the State Porcelain Factory in Petrograd and designed by the painter and graphic artist Veniamin Pavlovich Belkin (1884-1961) to celebrate the second anniversary of the Revolution in 1919. Belkin was one of several young artists recruited by the factory's artistic director, Sergei Chekonin.
The plate is emblazoned in the centre with the slogan 'OCTOBER 1917'. A contrast is made between a classical temple on the right and a group of factories on the left, their chimneys belching smoke. The temple symbolizes the old capitalist regime, while the factories symbolize the new Communist state with the workers in control. Other Communist symbols include the red star on the far right, crushing the old order, and the workers' hammer, sickle, axe and carpenter's plane on the rim. A second slogan painted in Cyrillic (Russian) script around the rim reads 'The victory of the workers'.
Like many of the ceramics produced shortly after the Revolution, this plate is painted in the dynamic style of the Futurist movement. Futurist images embody movement and energy and were intended as a celebration of the power of modern technology. For a few years this was the favoured style of the new Soviet Republic.
J. Rudoe, Decorative arts 1850-1950: a c, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)
, Art into production: Soviet ce (Oxford, Museum of Modern Art, 1984)
N. Lobanov-Rostovsky, Revolutionary ceramics: Soviet (London, 1990)