Commentary

Stalin’s portrait is held up by the child in the manner of an icon as much to bless the watchers as for them to thank Stalin for their liberation. Borrowing the language of worship, the text offers joyful gratitude and love from the people to their leader.

In contrast to the nominal TASS number of the painted posters, this item is clearly state generated. The very small type at the bottom proclaims state ownership, giving the date and places of publication (Moscow and Leningrad) and address of the print shop.

Facts

Printed poster
50,000 copies
Title
A Family Thanking Stalin
Created
28 September 1943
Artist
Viktor Koretskii
Original dimensions
60.5cm x 46cm
Collection number
MS 281/2/11

War Context

The appearance of this poster coincided with the date of the liberation of Kiev and West Ukraine from German occupation. The red flag in the window signifies the reassertion of Soviet power.

Artistic Roots

This printed poster directly links the pre-and post-war traditions in Soviet painting and graphic art. Religious visual language is utilised to deify the Soviet leader. As well as representing order and control, the item itself when displayed contributed to re-establishing the indisputable, god-like presence of Stalin.

Compare with the way a soldier is sanctified in the print ‘You have returned life to us’.

Artist

Koretskii, perhaps unsubtly, draws on the affective power of religion, but also supplants the religious image with Stalin. There is skill to the visual propaganda. Look at the hands of the family coming together in the centre of the composition. As in icons, hands play a strong role. The father supports the child, the mother reaches out her fingers towards the child’s hand supporting the poster. Her other hand just rests on the father’s arm. The movement of their hands together spirals upwards towards their leader.

Note too the red flag linking to the red text written in official language. Both are signifiers of Soviet power. The little scene through the window shows that order is re-established as the Soviet troops march past, whilst also offering depth and perspective.