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Pyotr [Peter] and Vassily, or Village in 'Sovdepia'

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    USSR (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1919 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour lithograph

  • Credit Line:

    Gift of the American Friends of the V&A; Gift to the American Friends by Leslie, Judith and Gabri Schreyer and Alice Schreyer Batko

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case 3G, shelf DR20

This White Russian, or anti-Bolshevik, comic strip is presented as a cautionary tale. Its colourful images and accompanying text are meant to appeal equally to illiterate and literate people. This piece of propaganda condemns Bolshevik rule and its policies by focusing on hard-working, land-owning "kulaks" - the segment of the population who stood to lose the most from the establishment of a Communist government. As the decree in the poster makes clear, private property was abolished. The character of Vasiliy is meant to personify the lazy evils of Communism, which the White Russians blamed for destroying simple, country life. The intended audience was also meant to be persuaded by the attention to detail in the images - in the first image, Pyotr is shod in work clogs but by the seventh, he is barefoot while drunkards have high-quality boots. The small, peaceful town is left charred and uninhabitable, even the animals are fleeing or left to die.

Physical description

This colourful White Russian (anti-Bolshevik) poster is composed as a comic story titled "Pyotr and Vasiliy, or Village in Sovdepia". The story of two peasants, Pyotr and Vasiliy, is told through 7 illustrations, supported by descriptive headings and explanatory text: 1. "Pyotr was working on his field" depicts a farmer ploughing the land, walking after his work horse. In the background is a tidily groomed village with a church. 2. "Vasiliy on the other hand was drunk day and night" shows a drunkard being led and supported by his wife and son, a wine bottle is still in his hand. 3. "Moscow Commissars sent the Decree about the Land". The Decree about the Land stated that everyone is entitled to equal shares of land, effectively destroying private property and land ownership on Soviet Republic territory. The illustration shows a dismayed Pyotr reading the text to the other peasants [a largely illiterate community]. The peasants react with troubled expressions, except Vas'ka [nickname of Vasiliy], who animatedly accepts the Commissars' Decree, with bottle of wine in hand. 4. "The Party orator comes to the village and Vas'ka becomes Head of the Committee of the Poor". The orator explains the benefits of the new Decree. He embraces the arrogant drunkard Vasiliy, who waves a banner "Glory to the Committee of the Poor". The supporting text explains Vas'ka's social transformation: he threatens execution for anyone who dares call him by his nickname. He declares that he must be addressed with respect and reverence as Vasiliy Ivanovich. 5. "Now life for Vas'ka is good". A peasant gathering looks on with disapproval at Vasiliy and his drinking companions. They carouse and sing in front of a house used by the "Committee of the Poor". 6. "Who always worked hard is now the 'harmul kulak'". The illustration shows Pyotr and his wife barefoot and crying. They are being robbed of their possessions by Vasiliy and his friends, who now sport high leather boots. They mock Pyotr's devastated family. The additional text describes the 'socialisation' taking place: property is expropriated in order to be redistributed equally among everyone. 7. "What became of the Village in just a month". The picture shows despairing Pyotr and his family leaving the devastated village, now in ruins. A stray dog attacks the body of a dead horse; a funeral procession passes a drunken Committee member lying unconscious near the Committee House; even birds are depicted flying away from the dilapidated village.

Place of Origin

USSR (made)


ca. 1919 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Colour lithograph

Marks and inscriptions

Pyotr was working on his field
Translated from Russian

Vasiliy on the other hand was drunk day and night
Translated from Russian

Moscow Commissars sent the Decree about the Land
Translated from Russian

The Party orator comes to the village and Vas'ka becomes Head of the Committee of the Poor
Translated from Russian

Now life for Vas'ka is good
Translated from Russian

Who always worked hard is now the 'harmul kulak'
Translated from Russian

What became of the Village in just a month
Translated from Russian


Height: 63 cm, Width: 71 cm

Descriptive line

"Pyotr [Peter] and Vassily, or Village in 'Sovdepia'" - White Russian propaganda poster warning against Soviet government in a series of illustrations; Russia, ca. 1919


Paper; Ink

Subjects depicted

Ideology; Villages; Politics; Peasants; Propaganda


Prints; Propaganda; Posters


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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