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Messages - tobik

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I am very pleased to say that “Greetings From The Barricades” is now out. If anybody is interested in learning more, here is a link to a short video:

“Greetings From The Barricades”, which is extensively illustrated, provides an entirely novel perspective on late Imperial Russia. For anybody interested in the history of this fascinating period, the book offers a compelling insight into the politics of this turbulent time, and shines a new light on many different aspects of Nicholas II’s reign and rule.

The in-depth text is based on original documents in the Russian police and censors’ archives, and almost all the 220-plus images are previously unpublished.

The best place to purchase copies is directly from the publisher – please see link below (Amazon is currently more expensive):

The Russian Revolution / Re: Anti-Tsar Post Card From 1905
« on: October 24, 2018, 11:52:24 AM »
I note the last reply to this was well over ten years ago – just about the length of time I have been writing my new book on Russian postcards of the 1905 Revolution! I hope that my study, the first of its kind, will provide readers with a lot more background to the postcard in this post. For more details see my latest post in the 'new books' section.

I am delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of my new book on revolutionary postcards in Imperial Russia, which is out on the 7 November.

Although now little known, picture postcards were the most widespread form of visual propaganda produced during the reign of the last Tsar, and a powerful weapon in the struggle against autocracy.

“Greetings from the Barricades” is the product of extensive archival research in Russia, Europe, and America. Alongside an in-depth text, it contains over 200 colour illustrations – the vast majority previously unpublished.

More details can be found here:

Copies can be ordered now from the publisher’s website above (click on 'add to bag' in top right), or through Amazon’s UK site:

Servants, Friends and Retainers / Mrs Aubin - Olga Nikolaevna
« on: August 31, 2017, 08:32:46 AM »
I don't suppose anyone knows who 'Mrs Aubin' is. I have recently come across a postcard written by Olga Nikolaevna in April 1903, wishing her a happy Easter.

Mike, thank you so much. This is super. FYI the postcard is a reproduction of Vladimirov's celebrated image of druzhinnik during the Moscow Uprising, titled Don't Go ( On the reverse Borodin writes to his wife/beloved to express admiration for the qualities of expressed in the picture . Strange to feel a pang of sadness so many years later to hear he was killed in 1917, but then 1905 really was a very different period.

In the course of my research for a book on anti-government postcards, I have recently come across a card sent by a certain И.И.Бородин, who describes himself as Штабс-капитан минной роты. He tells his correspondent to write to him on the Больдераа-Риго-Орловский Ж-Д.

Can anyone help with how his regiment should be rendered into English (Mining Regiment doesn't sound quite right), and why he might have been based on the railway?

Many thanks, Tobie

Palaces in St. Petersburg / Re: Identification of Palace
« on: April 13, 2014, 04:35:42 AM »
Here are some better photos:

Palaces in St. Petersburg / Identification of Palace
« on: April 12, 2014, 03:15:46 PM »
The following photographs come from one of Grand Duchess Olga's Ladies in Waiting. Can anyone help identify the location or palace in the background. Amongst the people identifiable are Felix Yusupov (not visible in the posted photos) and Anna Vyrubova - if anyone knows any of the other figures that would also be very helpful.
With thanks.

Thank you, I'm fairly sure that none of those depicted were at the vanguard of the revolution, certainly there is no similarity to any the usual suspects from this era.  Further to this, I presume that they're wearing some form of student uniform, so are unlikely to have been full-time revolutionaries as such.  The only (flippant) connection I can make is with regards to the chap on the right who bears an uncanny similarity to Alexander Blok!

My suspicions that they're SR are not based in concrete fact, more of a hunch founded on the fact that depictions of contemporary Socialist Democrats are extremely rare, in fact apart from the martyred Bauman (RSDLPb), Plekhanov (RSDLPm), and the odd picture of Trotsky (RSDLPm/non-aligned/b), they're really aren't very many others - for example the first images of Lenin only appeared in postcard form after Nov. 1917.


I am currently writing a book on the revolutionary postcards produced during the 1905 Uprising.  The attached image dates from around 1905, and almost certainly depicts three revolutionaries, possibly SRs.  Can anyone help with identification of their uniforms?  Also, if anyone has any clue as to their identities, please do let me know.
Thank you,

News Links / Rehabilitate the former Russian Imperial Family?
« on: December 07, 2005, 09:45:51 AM »
Moscow Times, Tuesday, December 6, 2005. Issue 3310. Page 2.

Descendants Call for Tsar's Rehabilitation
By Anatoly Medetsky
Staff Writer

Descendants of the last tsar are urging the Prosecutor General's Office to exonerate Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and five children as victims of political repressions.

"There still are people who say it was right to shoot them dead. We believe it is our duty to restore their good name," said Alexander Zakatov, a representative of Maria Romanova, the heiress to the Romanov dynasty and a granddaughter of a cousin of Nicholas II.

The tsar and his family were executed by a Bolshevik firing squad in Yekaterinburg on the night of July 17, 1918. Soviet Russia's highest authority at the time, the Central Executive Committee, approved the execution.

German Lukyanov, a lawyer for the descendants, said at the same news conference Monday that the tsar and his family were eligible for exoneration under Russian law because they were victims of political repression and did not get a fair trial. Exoneration would not allow descendants to claim any property in Russia, Lukyanov said

He said he had filed an appeal with prosecutors last Thursday and that they had three months to make a decision. He said that if prosecutors rejected the appeal, they would have to send it to court for a final decision.

The exoneration request comes at a time when Russia is trying to come to terms with its imperial past.

Imperial Russian Antiques / Re: purchasing imperial memorabilia
« on: November 29, 2005, 04:57:05 PM »

I have no wish to offend and appreciate we approach the subject from different points of view.  

Forgive me if I seem to come accross with a hardened heart, but I say again, if one is to evaluate art properly one must take all views into account all aspects of the situation and from these form a balanced judgement of the cultural value of the objects produced.

Sure what happened in the Civil War was terrible and I sympathise with the loss of all families, but I'm not going to think any less of e.g. Malevich as an artist because he sympathised with the regime in its early years.

In owning the Deni postcard, I do not as you suggest place material objects above human lives, in the same way that the Louvre owning a painting such as Delacroix's 1830 picture 'Liberty leading the people' does not espouse the idea of regicide and revolution.

David has tried to accuse me of being either naive, ignorant or a Communist.  Well, in answer to that all I can say is that in my life I have often been naive and ignorant, but as yet have not been persuaded by the values of Communism.

If anyone has any more insults to throw at me then fine, but all I can say is that every single other book I've ever read on art history has espoused similar views about the necessity of not letting emotions colour historical fact, so if any of you out there care to comment or perhaps care to tell me whether I am a Communist, ignorant or just a fool I would be delighted to know.

Yours as ever,


Imperial Russian Antiques / Re: purchasing imperial memorabilia
« on: November 29, 2005, 02:49:51 PM »
David and Tatiana,

This issue is not about praise of 'accidental good'.  It is about appreciating art on a rational level without allowing emotional response to colour our opinions.

There is much art (art of French Revolution to take one of many examples) that was produced in despicable times of much bloodshed, but it is a narrow and ignorant view to say that because of this we should describe the art as despotic or not worthy of our attention.  

To take one example of many, I have a postcard in my collection -  a beautiful agit prop postcard by Deni from c.1919 which shows a priest stealing from the poor, (title: Ya liubliu bratya, no liubliu s nikh brat' Ya - a sublime a pun as ther ever was) but according to what is being said I should feel guilt a) for owning it and b) for revelling in its artistic virtuosity.

I know we live in politically correct times but surely we can be more enlightened than this.

Imperial Russian Antiques / Re: purchasing imperial memorabilia
« on: November 28, 2005, 10:47:56 AM »


I was at a loss for words when I first read your post but I think I have now composed myself enough to respond to your thoughts which I would strongly describe as out right Communist propaganda or as unabashingly ignorant or amazingly naive. As I do not know your motivations for writting what you wrote, you can tell me which one of the three statements best describes your motives.

The Communists made the law 'protecting' works of art because knew art has monetary value not because they cared about the patrimony of Russia. The Communists seized private and public works of art so that they could be sold in the West for hard currency.

The Communists systematicly looted churches, taking those objects made of precious metals including the oklads that covered the icons (that protected them from candle smoke). The bronze bells were pulled down to be resmelted for industrial and military use. Tens of thousands of icons and hundreds of iconostasis were pulled from the churches and burnt. These desecrated churches were then used as machine shops and other industrial work places. I have been in such destroyed churches! I have seen the destruction with my own eyes!

The wonderful icons that are on display in the Hermitage are simply the unsold pieces from Lenin and Stalin's art sales.


First of all I must make it clear that all my comments refer to the Civil War period - these do not concern the later Stalin period.

OK. I agree with a lot of what you say.  I am aware of mass destruction that went on, on an industrial scale.

My point is that in taking the icons out of the churches, the Bolsheviks whether purposefully or not, saved many pieces of religious art.  Fullstop.  Sure many more were destroyed, but...

Don't misunderstand me - I am not saying that the Bolsheviks deliberately saved art because they were great aesthetes, what I am saying is that there actions led indirectly or directly to many being saved.  I was merely commenting on the irony.

This is not that spurious an opinion and I am certainly not the first to express it.

With regard to your assertion that the varying oklads used would have protected the icon - all I can say is that, firstly, you know full well that the oklad does not cover the entiire icon, the face being left exposed.  And secondly the oklad cannot possibly protect the icon from changes on temperature and atmosphere.

While monetary gain may have been a factor in the law to protect monuments it is an extreme and naive view to believe that it was the only reason.

Lenin, while a conservative in artistic matters, posessed an extremely developed understanding of the power and use of art.  While he was not a man to appreciate art for arts sake, it is no coincidence that the Bolsheviks presided over the most significant flowering of Russian decorative and applied art in the country's history (1918-c.1932.)

Imperial Russian Antiques / Re: purchasing imperial memorabilia
« on: November 28, 2005, 06:44:19 AM »

 The Communists destroy tens of thousands of icons in their policy of church desecration. Thousands of icons were taken by the parisheners of the churches in order to protect them from burning.

Yes, this is true, but the Bolsheviks also did an awful lot to preserve icons, taking many of the best examples away from damaging candle wax, humid breath and fetid conditions, putting them into museums.

Whatever one thinks about this from a religious point of view, the fact that remains is that their actions did much to save Russia's religious art.

Let's not forget that one of the very first actions of the Bolsheviks was a law to preserve the art treasures, in an effort to stop the looting and destruction.

Many of the early Bolshevik leaders, especially Lunacharsky and even Lenin were not the iconoclastic philistines they are made out to be.

I am not trying to excuse their actions, merely wishing to point out that there's two sides to the story.

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