Surfacing on the market: Soviet propaganda served up on a plate

Lempertz, Berlin, Berlin Sale, 2 May

Lempertz is offering an Austrian collection comprising around 60 items of porcelain that illustrate the feelings and values of post-revolutionary Russia. This scalloped plate (est €8,000-€10,000) was fired in 1889 at the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in St Petersburg, but it was only decorated in 1923—probably after a motif by the artist Mikhail Mikhailovich Adamovich—after the factory had been nationalised by the Soviet state. It features an enamel portrait of Lenin and the red star of communism, along with ration cards and the multicoloured slogan: “He who does not work shall not eat.” The message was intended for the former aristocracy, as the majority of the population were peasants still suffering from inflation and famine. The new era brought positive changes for these people, many of whom rushed to buy such ceramics as a way of showing their enthusiasm for the revolution.