Lenin photo exhibit shows his softer side
Rare and largely unseen images of Vladimir Lenin from a vast British archive that for nearly a century has been promoting cultural relations between the UK and Russia are to go on display in Oxford.
The photographs include Lenin in disguise, almost unrecognisable in makeup, wig and clean shaven, and show a less well-known side to the ruthless revolutionary leader: Lenin the cat lover, pictured.
The photographs are all drawn from the archives of the British Society for Cooperation in Russian and Soviet Studies (SCRSS), which was set up in 1924 to foster good artistic and scientific links, in a exhibition timed to coincide with the centenary of the Russian revolution.
The Soviet Union may have gone but the society, based in Brixton, south London, continues today. “Russia and the Soviet Union continue to fascinate people,” said Ralph Gibson, honorary secretary of the SCRSS.
Most of the photographs are being shown publicly for the first time: “For the vast majority of people they will be something new, they won’t have seen them in an exhibition context,” Gibson said.
There are many striking images, including the photograph of Lenin without his familiar bald head and manicured goatee, produced for his fake ID card when he needed to flee Petrograd in 1917 and cross the border to Finland.