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Voennaya pesenka Dontsov [Warrior song of the Don]

  • Engraver: Kromo-lit M T Solovyova, Moskva [Chromolithograph printer M T Solovyov, Moscow]
  • Date: 1904
  • Dimensions: sheet: 41 x 55.5 cms


Satirical Russian broadsheet published at start of Russo-Japanese war [1904] – a giant Don peasant whips a Japanese naval officer

About this piece:

Voennaya pesenka Dontsov [Warrior song of the Don]

Russo-Japanese war period satirical broadsheet, in the form of a traditional Russian “lubok” with accompanying “rayeshnik” style rhyming verse. Imprint of the Moscow military censor in lower left, dated 28th Feb 1904. No serial number or separate publisher’s imprint. Overall fine condition.

One of the earliest of the caricatures in the series we are offering, dated just three weeks after the commencement of hostilities. Here a bearded Don peasant whips a Japanese naval officer over his knee, whilst an adjacent Russian battery blasts a Japanese warship out of the water in a massive explosion. The impregnable fortifications of Port Arthur can be seen in the background, whilst Uncle Sam and a pig-tailed Chinese official look on from the sidelines with evident consternation. The accompany verse is signed “Dyada Gilya” (Uncle Gilyai) and warns the Japanese with considerable arrogance & in racially derogatory terms that they are in for a traditional Russian beating (with a whip) if they do not clear off.

The direct gaudiness and primitive humour of this unique genre of “popular prints” found an ready & enthusiastic reception amongst the ordinary folk of Russia during the initial period of the war in 1904, at a time when Russian expectations of an early victory remained misguidedly strong and, as the ensuing conflict would prove, arrogantly over-optimistic.