Lenin's Wooden Mausoleum with a Group of People in the Front. Alexey Shchusev.
Lenin's Wooden Mausoleum with a Group of People in the Front.
An Early Photo of Lenin’s Wooden Mausoleum

Lenin's Wooden Mausoleum with a Group of People in the Front.

Dated on verso: December 7, 1924. Original vintage photograph. Captioned in Russian on verso in pencil. Mounted on grey cardboard (280 × 210 mm), image size: 220 × 158 mm. Cardboard’s corners are bumped. Light brown discoloration to the central-left of the image. Otherwise in fine condition.

Scarce photograph of an early, wooden version of Lenin’s Tomb.

After Lenin’s death in January 21, 1924, the architect Alexey Shchusev (1873–1979) was commissioned to build a temporary funeral home at the Red Square by the Moscow Kremlin Wall, suitable for the visitation. This, the first version of the tomb, stood only for a very short time, until a more elaborate building was designed, which could visually illustrate the slogan “Lenin is dead but his cause is alive”— as how Shchusev, the architect himself put it.

By autumn 1924, a new, much larger wooden building, a real monument, after Shchusev’s plan was erected at the same place. This structure had a visual reference to the ancient sacred architecture, the Egyptian and Maya pyramids or the Ziggurat of Ur, combined with modern, constructivist elements.

Because of the use of a less persistent material, the wooden tomb eroded rapidly, and within some five years its structure — with small alterations — was redone in ferroconcrete, covered with porphyry, granite, and labradorite, and the well-known building, Lenin’s Mausoleum, which is still standing at the Red Square in Moscow, was born.

Photographs of the wooden Mausoleum are rare, especially at this early stage. Our image shows Lenin’s Tomb in the winter of 1924, with a large group of people in the foreground, the delegates of the All-Russian Congress of the Worker-, Agricultural-, and Youth Correspondents of Pravda, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union — as the caption reads on the verso.

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Price: €4,000.00