20 JUNE 2020

It was a delight to re-introduce Michael to our U3APP audience again after an absence of two years; this time branching away from his French/Paris themes and introducing the part played by art in identifying and promoting the aims of the political and social revolution spreading across the Russian Empire.

As a social historian he connects the effect of history on art and how art can affect can the flow of history. As we discovered, art had a profound effect on the social upheaval in Russia leading up to the Revolution. The rapid industrialisation of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, combined with the transition from rural serfdom bred a discontent that finally concluded in 1923 with the Bolshevik establishment of the Soviet Union at the end of the Civil War.

Initially the realist style of painting would picture the hard working peasants or factory workers striving to improve the lot of the labourer. But it was the work of the leaflets and posters that gave impetus to the speechmakers’ idealism. As most peasants would have been unable to read or write, the graphic displays of the fat, greedy plutocrats denying basic human rights to the downtrodden workers became the driving force of the revolt.

Michael’s comfortable style of presentation; sometimes amusing, always interesting and often very graphic, informed an audience which, whilst having a rudimentary knowledge of the subject, may not have been aware of the severity of the privations endured by the average Russian peasant.

For those members who were unable to hear this seminar or those who did and would like further information, Michael has made both the spoken and graphic content available for distribution. Please let me know if you would like an emailed copy.

Over 60 people attended the seminar, which was conducted online as a webinar.

Mark Denniston

Michael has recently had another article on France published at


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