- Museum number
Plate; hard-paste porcelain, painted in overglaze colours; in the centre, a hammer and sickle with the word `KOMMUNA' on a ground of multi-coloured sun-rays, bordered with oak leaves in green and gold; round the rim a large, five-pointed red star with a slogan in black letters on pale yellow ground.
- Production date
Diameter: 24.10 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- See also 1990,0506.2
See also 1990,0506.6
Text from J. Rudoe, 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950. A catalogue of the British Museum collection'. 2nd ed. 1994. no. 35.
When Chekhonin joined the State Porcelain Factory in 1918 he was an established graphic artist; previously his varied career had included book illustration, typographic design, designs for architectural ceramics and directing a school for enamel work. The Imperial Porcelain Factory was renamed the State Porcelain Factory in 1917 and Chekhonin was its artistic director from 1918 to 1923 and again from 1925 to 1927. In addition to his own considerable output of new designs, he was responsible for retraining the factory's painters and for recruiting other outstanding artists to make new designs.
The post-1917 ceramic production was used as a propaganda tool to disseminate the slogans and symbols of the new republic. Chekhonin's design for this plate, signed and dated 1920, is illustrated in Efros, A. and Punin, N.S. 'Checkonin, Moscow n.d. (1924) 105. Characteristically, it combines pre-revolutionary decorative elements, such as the gilded oak-leaf border, with a dynamic Futurist-style motif in the centre; the effect is striking, but the stylised letters of 'KOMMUNA' (commune) are almost lost against the vivid background.
In general, artists' designs were copied by the factory painters, using the stocks of undecorated blanks held in reserve at the Imperial Porcelain Factory. From 1918 to 1921-2, the Imperial factory mark, incorporating the Imperial monogram, was obliterated; Gollerbach, E., 'La Porcelaine de la Manufacture d'Etat', Moscow, writing in 1922 (p. 22), stated that this practice was begun in 1918, when the Soviet government was established in Moscow and the factory received an order to cover the tsarist mark, but that it was now no longer done.
A number of other examples of plates with this design are known, e.g. Lobanov-Rostovsky, N. 'Revolutionary Ceramics: Soviet Porcelain 1919-1927, New York 1990, no. 14, and others sold in recent London auctions.
Information supplementary to Rudoe 1994:
Plates like this, with the word ‘Commune’ in the centre were originally meant for everyone. The artists who designed them naively thought that porcelain would soon be affordable and widely available, but most of these plates were made in small quantities for international exhibitions or as official souvenirs to delegates at Soviet congresses. Lenin himself took an interest in choosing the slogans.
- On display (G48/dc4)
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Russian Revolution
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number