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REFERENCES TO THE ANCIENT ART AND HISTORY IN THE PROPAGANDA POSTERS OF WORLD WAR I

G. Gruew
Friday 9 November 2018 by Libadmin2018

ABSTRACT

World War I’s propaganda contained frequent references to the art and history of the past periods, what gave an opportunity to settle the struggle into the narrative frames of the history of mankind. By using such methods like naming the enemies as barbarians or predicting the dawn of empires, the recipients of propaganda were inspired to think about Ancient times as a natural cultural background of some countries and nations. In the propaganda posters there are plenty of recognizable references to the Assyrian, Greek and Roman art as well as links to the history of Biblical Israelites. The Greek-Roman Antiquity gave possibilities to present the culture of the Western Europe countries, which mainly participated in the Entente alliance, as the cultural heirs of the Roman Empire. Furthermore the references to the history of the Israelites built an international support to the idea to give the governmental power in Palestine (acquired from the Ottoman Empire) to the Jews. In such manner the Entente presented itself as an alliance eager to put to an end of the long-lasting period of the Jewish Dispersion. The Palestinians were shown as civilians struggling with poverty and forced to move on desserts and wastelands, which was a clear reference to the migration of the Israelites from Egypt in Biblical times.
Posters with references to the Antiquity were also used in the Central Powers countries and such implication should be considered as the next period of open references in the 19th-century societies to the Ancient tradition in such areas as culture, art and politics (especially in Berlin, Vienna and Munich). The efficient form of using references to the Antiquity seemed to be an adaptation of some motives related to the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus, by his affirmation to the armies of the belligerent country, gave its soldiers Divine Providence, confirmed validity of the ethical values justifying participation in the war and finally leaded people to the anticipated victory.
The persuasive and artistic solutions of these problems, as they were used in the posters of World War I, should be perceived as the next step of propaganda evolution in the 19th century and growing popularity of the graphic medias. They were often evaluated by the contemporary viewers as efficient and captivating. Hence the ideas used consequently during the war were skilfully adapted in the political propaganda of the Interwar Period and during the Russian revolutions of 1917.

Keywords: propaganda posters, World War I propaganda, Ancient art in propaganda posters, Ancient history in propaganda posters


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