Russian Christmas and New Year's Cards
Winter Landscape Cards
There is little information about the artist Iosif Belousov – an author of winter landscapes which were reproduced on postcards by foreign publishers (eg, the Stockholm publishing house of E. Svanström). In the early 20th century, he lived in St. Petersburg, worked in the Department of the State Securities. In addition to postcards with idyllic views of snow-covered fields and villages, Belousov's heritage includes illustrations for publications on clay manufacturing.
Postcards depicting the Russian winter are not properly greetings. However, they can be used for congratulations, and some items from the collection of Alexandr Pronin prove it. For example, one of the open letters after the original of Mikhail Germashev (1867-1930) was sent in December 1910 with best wishes for a new year. It was issued by the Riga Lenz and Rudolf publishing house which reproduced many works of this landscape painter who was popular in the late 19th – early 20th centuries.
Wishes for a Happy New Year, 1914, are contained in a postcard with winter landscape by Alexandr Lavrov (1857 -?) , better known for his children's cards.
However, the pictures on the cards, sometimes, do not match their text. For instance, «Winter» of the famous landscape painter, academician Konstantin Kryzhitsky (1858-1911), released in November 1912 by the Community of St. Eugenia publishers, was chosen not for Christmas but for Easter greetings.
Likewise, winter landscape cards did not use to be issued exclusively at the end of the calendar year: for example, a number of postcards produced by the charitable organization Lyuban society of care for the poor was passed by censor only on 5 February, 1916. Along with several summer scenes, among the cards was «A Frosty Morning» by Mikhail Balunin (1875-1942) – an author of genre and landscape works, who later died during the siege of Leningrad.
It is worth noting that the winter views – are a point of intersection of publications from the early 20th century and New Year's cards issued in the seventies of the 20th century (another point is «animalistic» composition). The ectronic exhibition of cards from the collection of the Prints Department of the NLR makes it possible to trace the unity in pre-revolutionary and Soviet postcards. The display tells a story about activities of various publishers in the first decades of the 20th century, shows the works of well-known and almost forgotten artists. It also features items, interesting as the documentary sources. They have survived in the American collection of Pronin and now we can study Russia's history through them.