Photo: A pre-Revolutionary Easter card depicts the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and the Tsesarevich Alexei distributing Easter eggs to soldiers.
St. Petersburg-based State Museum of History is offering a rich collection of 19th-20th century Easter greeting cards at an exhibition that opened on Thursday, ITAR-TASS reports. Festive attributes and symbols will make it possible to trace all the stages of the great Christian Holiday from the Palm Sunday to the Bright Week. Visitors will also be able to see greetings, addresses and the names of dispatchers and recipients on the reverse sides of the cards.
The first domestic Easter greeting cards include a series of illustrated Easter cards issued by the Community of St. Eugenia in 1898. They are made in water colors and are devoted to “spring themes”. The Community’s publishing house often returned to the Easter theme in future. The sketches for the Easter greeting cards were drawn by Ivan Bilibin, Fyodor Berenshtam, Yevgeny Bem and other famous artists.
The exposition also features greeting cards made by other publishers such as the Richard publishing house in St. Petersburg, the Lenz and Rudolf publishers in Riga, the Kiev-based “Rassvet” (Dawn) publishers, the Vienna-based “M.Munk” and “The Publishing House of I. Lapin” in Paris. They depict traditional Easter eggs, Easter cakes, churches, spring landscapes and people exchanging triple kisses as well as some untypical images borrowed from Western Europe such as rabbits, lapins and chicks.
Photo cards, including portraits and still-life paintings, were no less popular than drawn cards. Most of them were shot in the studio and were often painted manually in aniline colors.
A special section is devoted to Easter cards issued during WWI. New attributes and new characters appeared on those Easter cards such as soldiers and nurses. One of the last cards was issued in 1917. An unknown artist drew a red Easter egg as a symbol of revolutionary events in Russia. Soon, all Easter celebrations were abolished and Easter greeting cards disappeared from Soviet life. Easter traditions were preserved only by Russian emigrants abroad. Church publishing houses printed a small number Easter cards after the Great Patriotic War. The tradition of printing Easter cards started to revive in the late 1980s.
The exhibit runs until June 17th in the History Museum of St. Petersburg which is located inside the SS Peter and Paul Fortress.
© Russkiy Mir. 26 April, 2013