Russia’s State Historical Museum brings 1917 October Revolution treasures to Beijing

By Huang Tingting Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/8 17:23:40

Visitors take pictures of Soviet posters at the exhibition on Tuesday. Photo: Huang Tingting/GT

A century ago on November 7, 1917, the October Revolution successfully established the world's first Marxist socialist country, sending ripples round the world and bringing Marxist-Leninist theory to China.

A hundred years later, the legacy of the revolution was commemorated in Beijing on Tuesday as the National Museum of China (NMC) kicked of its newest exhibition: Memorializing the 100th Anniversary of the October Revolution: Exhibition of Relics about the October Revolution from Russia's State Historical Museum.

An effort of cooperation

Co-organized by the NMC and Russia's State Historical Museum (SHM), the exhibition showcases 238 artworks closely related to the October Revolution and former Soviet leaders, including Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, as well as those celebrating Sino-Russian ties.

Aside from artworks such as oil paintings and sculptures from 21 veteran Russian artists, the exhibition also includes photos and historical items such as written records about the revolution and the following era that was deeply influenced by it.

Almost all exhibits at the NMC exhibition are being shown in China for the first time, said SHM director Aleksei Levykin at a press conference for the exhibition on Tuesday.

This is not the first time that items from the SHM collection has come to China. In September, SHM's Treasures of the Russian Empire exhibit went on display at the Guangdong Museum in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province.

"The NMC started planning the exhibition as early as three years ago," said NMC deputy director Bai Yuntao at the press conference. But it was not until April that the details of the exhibition were hammered out and agreed upon by both sides, Bai explained.

Vladimir Lenin on Armored Car Photo: Courtesy of National Museum of China

An event to remember

The October Revolution had an enormous impact on China and remains a prominent event even today.

The significance of the influence the revolution had on China and the Communist Party of China (CPC) was illustrated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, acting in his role as general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, in a work report to the 19th CPC National Congress on October 18.

The report noted that the October Revolution brought Marxism-Leninism to China and it was within this philosophy that Chinese progressives of the time found solutions to many of the problems China faced. Four years later the CPC was established in 1921.

The October Revolution was one of the most important events of the 20th century as it fundamentally reshaped Russia's economy and society, Levykin noted.

A hundred years later, the profound historical significance and the universal values brought by the event still exist, he added.

Presenting history

Free to the public, the exhibition attracted droves of visitors on its first day. Aside from Chinese visitors in their 50s and 60s, many families with kids were seen wandering around the exhibition hall.

"We brought our kid to the exhibition because we want to educate her more about the history of Lenin and the October Revolution," a mom surnamed Chen who was there with her husband and 4-year-old daughter told the Global Times.

With most of the items arranged against red boards, the show seems to fit well with the "revolution" theme.

Visitors pass by a huge three-meter-high painting, Lenin Speaking to the Workers of the Putilov Factory by Russian painter Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky, to enter the show's first section The Great Revolution.

Aside from various historical paintings depicting Lenin speaking on various occasions during 1917 and the early era of the Soviet Union, the statue Vladimir Lenin on Armored Car by Russian sculptor Matvey Genrikhovich Manizer and personal belongings including a brown luggage bag used by the late Soviet leader and his wife when exiled overseas from 1900 to 1915 are valuable relics that previously could only be seen in China in history books.

Other items worthy of close examination include the dozens of classic revolution-themed posters - ranging from those created during the October Revolution all the way up until the 1980s - in the exhibition's second section Memory of the People, as well as a calligraphy work displayed as part of the third section China-Soviet Friendship. The calligraphy work, a eulogy dedicated to Lenin, was written by Sun Yat-sen - founder of The Republic of China (1912-49) - on January 21, 1925, the 1st anniversary of the Soviet leader's death.

Olga Abramova, the exhibition's Russian curator from SHM, went into some detail about Lenin's different images in Soviet paintings to the press.

She said many Soviet painters chose to depict the late Soviet leader as an ordinary man who can age and tire, while some painted Lenin as a revolutionary symbol, which is why paintings such as Lenin on the Rostrum by Alexander Mikhaylovich Gerasimov and many of the Soviet posters give off a more heroic vibe.

Another must-see at the exhibition is the 1955 oil painting Vladimir Lenin Speaking at the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets by Soviet painter Vladimir Aleksandrovich Serov.

The painting is a recreation of his 1947 first version, which was given as a gift to the People's Republic of China. The original painting, now in the NMC collection, is currently on display at the museum's The Road of Rejuvenation exhibition.
Newspaper headline: Revolutionary impact


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