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Costakis collection of World War I posters

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0573

Scope and Contents

The collection includes forty-eight Russian propaganda posters ranging from the early days of World War I to the Russian civil war and the Revolution.


  • Creation: approximately 1914-1918


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical / Historical

The history of satirical graphics and poster propaganda in twentieth-century Russia is complex: they are indebted stylistically on the one hand to the lubok (peasant woodcut) tradition and on the other to German and French examples of late nineteenth-century poster art. The political motives and ideals exhibited are inevitably diverse and even inconsistent.

At the time of the 1905 revolution, Russian artists became heavily involved in anti-government satire for the first time; a tradition of satirical commentary began to develop. The enemy for many artists was at that time (as later) the bourgeoisie and the imperial regime, but with the outbreak of war in 1914, the anti-imperialist sentiments of the previous decade gave way in many quarters to a new nationalism, even chauvinism. In August-September 1914 a government publishing house, The Modern Lubok, was established in Moscow entirely for the production of lubok propaganda posters. Avant-garde artists such as Lentulov, Larionov, Chekrygin, and Malevich participated, as did Maiakovsky (who is often considered to have been associated with the anti-imperialist left from the time of his school days, but whose political and ideological history is extremely complex). The World War I posters in the Costakis collection illuminate aspects of the lubok enterprise.

As the Russian army suffered defeats in 1915, the production of propaganda posters gradually ceased. With the arrival of the Revolution, however, the machinery swung into high gear again, now on behalf of the Bolsheviks and against the tsar. Many of the same artists who had enthusiastically supported the anti-German tsarist cause turned their hands to work for the left against the right.


1.18 Cubic Feet (2 flat boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection includes a number of Russian propaganda posters ranging from the early days of World War I to the Russian civil war and the Revolution.


This collection is arranged in one box.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Posters are fragile. Please handle with care.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The posters in this collection were acquired from the collector Evgenii Platonovich Ivanov in 2011. It was previously owned by George Costakis.


Accession number 2011-12.MS.012

Processing Information

Processed by Kelly Spring in 2011.


Costakis collection of World War I posters
Kelly Spring
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA