Illustrated Broadside

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Illustrated Broadside


(in Russian lubok) a work of graphic art, usually a print, easily understood and intended for mass circulation. Illustrated broadsides are marked by technical simplicity and concise representation (crude lines and usually striking colors). They often create a decorative effect and relate a long narrative (series and picture books). Some illustrated broadsides have explanatory captions beneath the pictures. These prints are generally done by amateur artists and constitute a form of folk art; however, professionally executed broadsides that borrow folk devices are also in existence.

The oldest illustrated broadsides are from China. Drawn originally by hand, they were done by woodcut beginning in the eighth century. Illustrated broadsides appeared in Europe in the 15th century. They were made by woodcut, copper engraving (beginning in the 17th century), and lithography (19th century). The appearance of these types of prints in Europe was influenced by late medieval popular art objects, such as the small paper icons that were sold at fairs and pilgrimage centers. The religious images in the prints subsequently lost their hieratic nature and were made to serve morally instructive purposes.

During periods of social conflicts and revolutions, illustrated broadsides were used as means of propaganda (for example, the fliers circulated during the Peasant Wars and the German Reformation and the broadsides distributed during the French Revolution). By depicting historical events, battles, and unusual natural occurrences, the prints served as a means of mass communication.

Russian lubki of the 18th century, regardless of the graphic medium used, were marked by a decorative unity of composition (often with a genuinely monumental effect) and color. In the 19th century, professional artists reflected the imagery of popular prints or imitated them entirely. (In Russia, A. G. Venetsianov, I. I. Terebenev, and I. A. Ivanov did color etchings about the Patriotic War of 1812.) Some 19th-century artists, such as F. Goya, H. Daumier, and G. Courbet, were inspired by the devices and themes of popular prints.

Chinese and Indian illustrated broadsides are particularly colorful; originally magical powers were attributed to them. In Soviet art, devices of lubki were used by V. V. Mayakovsky and others in posters and propaganda pictures and by T. A. Mavrina in illustrations for children’s books.


Rovinskii, D. A. Russkie narodnye kartinki, vols. 1-5 (text), vols. 1-3 (atlas). St. Petersburg, 1881.
Alekseev, V. A. Kitaiskaia narodnaia kartinka. Moscow, 1966. Lubok. (Album.) Moscow, 1968.
Duchartre, P. L., and R. Saulnier. L’imagerie populaire. Paris, 1926.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 1913 Hodgson teamed up with the illustrator Claud Lovat Fraser (1890-1921) and the writer Holbrook Jackson (1874-1948) to found At the Sign of the Flying Fame, a small press that harked back to the eighteenth century by publishing illustrated broadsides (single sheets) and chapbooks (small soft-back booklets no more than 20 pages long).