Propaganda's beauty

[CHEKHONIN] – EPHROS, Abram and Nikolai PUNIN

S. Chekhonin. A Master of the Soviet Empire Style [and] On the Art of Chekhonin

Publication: State press, Moscow and Leningrad, 1923.

[CHEKHONIN] – EPHROS, Abram and Nikolai PUNIN, S. Chekhonin. A Master of the Soviet Empire Style [and] On the Art of Chekhonin

Avant-garde and propaganda’s early days: the English version of this celebration of one of most striking Russian artists and designers.

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Our Notes & References

Very good example of the first edition in English of the first monograph on Chekhonin, limited to 1000 copies.

Sergei Vasilievich Chekhonin (1878-1936) was a prolific book designer, illustrator of satiric journals and member of the celebrated artists’ circle founded by Diaghilev, Benois and Bakst, “Mir Iskusstva” [World of Art]. He served as artistic director of the Soviet State Porcelain Factory in 1918-1923 and 1925-1927, and his designs for plates using decorative forms, graphics and slogans for Soviet propaganda became very famous and instantly recognisable.

“It was as if [Chekhonin] leaped over a whole generation. He spoke of the future as of the present. That unthinkable artistic marriage – Soviet Empire – was consummated under his impatient hands. The disorganised, blockaded, persecuted land of the Soviets appeared in his work firm, ponderous, perfect, and blossomed into a magnificent classicism of form” (Efros).

Abram Efros (1888-1954) was a Russian Soviet art critic, translator, theatre expert and literary critic. He was a friend and supporter of Sergei Esenin and Marc Chagall, whose first monograph he also wrote.

Nikolai Punin (1888–1953) was a Russian art scholar and writer, curator of the Hermitage Museum and the Russian museum. Punin was a lifelong friend and common-law husband of the poetess Anna Akhmatova. In 1949, he was arrested on accusations of “anti-Soviet” activity and died in the Gulag camp of Vorkuta.


Hellyer 83.

Item number



Physical Description

Two parts in a volume 4to (29 x 22.5 cm). 1-105pp. (and [2]pp. toc), including half-title, title and 63 plates, some in colour, after Sergey Chekhonin.


Original printed wrappers with suprematist style design by Chekhonin.


Light restoration to block, small book shop ink stamp to lower wrapper; some leaves becoming loose.

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