“Saturday” Sculpture
Created at the Mikhail
Lomonosov Leningrad
Porcelain Factory, 1929
A rare piece from the early Soviet era
encompasses one of the most authentic
“Russian” themes: drinking. This
domestic-themed figurine specimen is created
in the best traditions of the famous Imperial
Porcelain Factory (this was the name of the
Leningrad Porcelain Factory.
before the revolution)
This dramatic five-figure composition is an
elaboration of the infamous problem, which was up for
correction many times during the Soviet era…
In the centre is the father in a blue shirt,
stripped pants, good quality black shoes and grey
apron —apparently looking like a successful worker.
He holds bottles of vodka in both hands, and drinks
from one of them. His wife sadly leans on his shoulder,
with a dark green kerchief slipping on her shoulder.
Their daughter in a light dress sits by his feet,
the weeping son, a pioneer in short trousers,
holds him by the shoulder. Behind the family,
hidden under the chest is another family member,
a black cat. The tragic scene
is titled simply: “Saturday.”
The scene is apparently rendered from
a woman's perspective. In fact this
complex and exquisite composition was
sculpted by the factory artist Natalya Danko
and painted by another woman,
Elizaveta Potapova.
It is not by chance that the artist chose
this very subject-matter: in 1929 a
vigorous campaign against alcoholism and
excess drinking started in the USSR.
Production of alcohol decreased across
the country, with many breweries
closing. Many beer houses and other “shady”
places were reequipped into “Tea
houses” and “Diners.” This campaign had
a mighty ideological support at all
levels: along with mass release of printed
agitprop materials and large-scale
circulations of a new magazine
“Sobriety and Culture”, there appeared
travelling cinemas showing anti-alcohol
films promoting healthy lifestyle.
Collection custodian:
“The name of this sculpture seems strange to us. It is common today
for a person to indulge himself with complete ‘relaxation’ at the end
of the working week, which is now Friday. However, in the 1920s
Saturday was the last working day of the week. The scene depicted by
Natalya Danko presented the classical end of the week for Russians.”
Pioneers and school children of Moscow's Sokolnichesky at a
march holding anti-religious and anti-alcohol banners.
Moscow, 26th April, 1921-1931
In 1929 the state undertook the second attempt to revamp the population's
lifestyle and make people healthier. The first anti-alcohol campaign started
right after the Bolsheviks took power in 1917. The Soviet society was still to see
further anti-alcohol campaigns in 1958, 1972 and 1985. The latest in the series
is commonly known as “Gorbachev's dry law.”
Anti-alcohol rally, 1987