Rus Articles Journal

What is a popular print?

Who and why called them basten - it is unknown. Perhaps because pictures cut out on lime boards (and the linden was called then a bass), maybe, because sold them in bast boxes of an ofena - pedlars, or if to trust the Moscow legend, everything went from Lubyanka - the street on which there lived masters in production of popular prints.

Comic national pictures sold at fairs in the 17th century up to the beginning of XX - go, were considered as the most mass type of the fine arts of Russia. Though the attitude towards them was frivolous, in the upper class refused flatly to recognize as art what was created by commoners - self-educated persons on pleasure to the country people, often on gray paper. Certainly, then very few people cared for careful saving basten sheets, at that time and came to nobody to mind that the pictures which reached up to now will become true property, the real masterpiece of the Russian national painting. It is clear today that not only the folksy humour and history of ancient Russia, but also natural talent of the Russian artists, sources of live comical skill and colourful literary exemplariness were embodied in a popular print.

The popular print is an engraving, or the print received on paper from a wooden cliche. Initially pictures were is black - white and served for decoration of imperial chambers and a seigniorial mansion, but after their production became more mass and already color. It is black - white prints painted with hare pads of the woman near Moscow and Vladimir. Often such basten pictures resembled a modern coloring of the small child, inept, hasty, illogical on color. However many pictures which scientists consider especially valuable occur among them, arguing on the innate sense of color of artists allowing to create absolutely unexpected, fresh combinations, inadmissible at a careful, detailed coloring and therefore unique.

The subject of national pictures is very different: it covers subjects religious and moralizing, the national epos and fairy tales, the historical and medical, surely accompanied with the instructive or playful text, narrating about temper and life of that time, containing popular wisdom, humour, and sometimes and skillfully disguised cruel political satire.

Over time also the equipment of a popular print changed. In the 19th century drawing began to be done not on a tree, and on metal that allowed to create to masters more graceful works. Also the color scale of popular prints changed, having become even brighter and richer, turning often into fantastic, unexpected violence of color. Long time basten pictures were the main spiritual food of the simple working people, a source of knowledge and news as it was not enough newspapers, and the popular print was popular, cheap and extended over all country, overcoming inconceivable distances. By the end of the 19th century basten creativity sputtered out - there were new pictures made at factories.

The Russian popular print is creations of anonymous national masters. Violently developing under the brand of lack of talent and bad taste put by highly educated part of the Russian society, today it is recognized as special value and is a subject of collecting and careful studying of many scientists not only Russia, but also foreign countries, taking the worthy place on walls of the museums of the fine arts near works of the most great masters of the past.