Principal Investigator: Dr Meredith Hale, University of Cambridge
Research Assistant: Ms Galina Mardilovich, University of Cambridge
Collaborative partners: Dr Elmer Kolfin, University of Amsterdam, and Professor Roman Grigoryev, State Hermitage Museum and European University at St. Petersburg
Project summary: 'The Power of Print: Dutch propaganda for a new Russia'
explores one of the most important cross-cultural uses of political imagery in the early modern period: Peter the Great's 1698 commission of Dutch printmaker Adriaen Schoonebeek to found a school of printmaking in Russia.
Dutch expertise, Dutch technology and Dutch examples were employed to create a new visual language of power in a flexible reproductive medium, one that became central to the Russian tsar's presentation of himself as a modern 'Westernised' ruler. Stadholder and King of England William III's revolutionary use of the print medium provided a compelling model for Peter I and the tsar's appropriation and naturalisation of Williamite imagery in the creation of the some of the earliest Russian propaganda prints have left a significant legacy. The founding of a school of Russian printmaking is one of the most important events in Peter I's campaign of reform and cultural self-definition, reflecting the earliest stages of Russia's complex and contentious relationship with both the West and its own national identity, issues that have remained central to Russian political discourse.
Peter I's political and cultural legacy has been alternately embraced and rejected by his successors, but his innovative use of propaganda prints definitively established the centrality of the medium to the projection of political power through the Great Reforms of the 1860s, the Revolution of 1917, the Russian Civil War, the Soviet State and beyond. With this project we will examine the origins and development of the political print in Russia up to the late twentieth century; it is essential to examine the birth of the propaganda print at a time when the demise of the newspaper and other print media at the hands of the internet has been heralded and timely to consider its role in Russia as we approach the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 2017. 'The Power of Print: Dutch propaganda for a new Russia' will lay the groundwork for an extensive study of printed political imagery in Russia from an art historical perspective, assessing the impact of the Dutch exemplar under Peter I and considering the ways in which the print medium has been used over time to convey political content.
Key participants: Key participants include: Dr Meredith Hale, Principal Investigator (PI), specialist in seventeenth century Dutch political prints and Williamite propaganda; Ms Galina Mardilovich, Research Assistant (RA), specialist in nineteenth-century Russian prints and print culture; and two collaborative partners Dr Elmer Kolfin, Associate Professor in History of Art at the University of Amsterdam, and Professor Roman Grigoryev, Head of the Print Room, State Hermitage Museum, and Professor in History of Art, European University at St. Petersburg.