A New Childhood: Picture Books from Soviet Russia

A UK first: rare picture books from 1920s-30s Russia

When, Where

"Out with bourgeoise crocodiles! How the Soviets rewrote children's books" - Guardian

Critics' choice in Financial Times and Daily Telegraph

"One of the 10 hottest tickets in town" - Evening Standard

"A visual treat for readers young and old" - Times Literary Supplement

★★★★ "An extraordinary revelation ... a highly unusual and special exhibition"  The Lady

★★★★ - "It's another exhibition from House of Illustration packed with interesting stories and fantastic drawings. They're on a roll.Londonist

"Fascinating" - review in Eye Magazine 

With their perfect synthesis of typography, design and illustration, Soviet children’s books in the 1920s and 1930s revolutionised the picture book form against the turbulent political backdrop of the Russian revolution of 1917.

Exhibited for the first time in the UK, a selection of rare books and original works from the unparalleled collection of Sasha Lurye provides a window on this fertile and fascinating moment in 20th century illustration.

The exhibition explores this period of unprecedented innovation, from pre-revolutionary Russian illustration to the pioneers of Soviet children's publishing. There are illustrations of folk tales, poetry, educational volumes, and extremely rare hand-printed editions and Jewish books illustrated by Marc Chagall and El Lissitzky, all brought to life with bold colours, dynamic shapes and playful layouts.

Discover rarely-seen work by some of the most influential figures of the age, including Vladimir Tambi, sisters Olga and Galina Chichagova, and Vladimir Lebedev, whose avant garde illustrations for prominent poet and translator Samuil Marshak such as Circus and Luggage have become iconic.

Soviet books of the 1920s and early 1930s influenced children’s publishing around the world and provide the key to the modern picture book in the form that we recognise today. In the Netherlands, exhibitions of Soviet books in the 1930s caused a sensation. In France, Russian émigrés Nathalie Parain and Feodor Rojankovsky created an unmistakable aesthetic for the Père Castor albums. And Soviet books brought to England by artist Pearl Binder inspired Noel Carrington to create the illustrious Puffin Picture Book series which began in 1940.

Image gallery