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Lot #87
Joseph Stalin: Original Time Magazine Cover Painting by Ernest Hamlin Baker

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Estimate: $1500+
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Original painting of Joseph Stalin used on the cover of the February 5, 1945 issue of Time Magazine, accomplished in gouache on 10 x 11 artist's board by Ernest Hamlin Baker. The portrait depicts the Soviet leader in a close-up pose with a red shooting star in the background, and is signed along the bottom in white by the artist. Handsomely matted and framed to an overall size of 18.5 x 20.5. In very fine condition.

This issue of Time preceded the Yalta Conference and featured a lengthy piece on Russia, its importance to the Allied war effort, and Stalin himself—with a lengthy, interesting passage on the man's face, so capably rendered here by Baker. Headed 'The Face of History,' the article reads, in part:

'He was a little man (5 ft. 5 in.), two inches taller than Napoleon. But most Americans discovered this fact (to their surprise) only after the Teheran conference. For some 20 years before that, Americans had known Stalin chiefly from a few carefully posed photographs which made him look tall, and from Soviet statues and paintings which were invariably heroic. To the western world Stalin was chiefly a face and a focus for disturbing rumors.

It was the kind of face that was more disquieting when it smiled than when it was sober. Over the years it had slowly changed. In Stalin's youth his face had been delicately handsome, but revolution, war, power and, above all, will had abraded it into somber strength. The hair, which had been purplish black like most Georgians', and grew far forward on the low forehead, had turned grey. The eyes, which had once peered out from velvety depths of unfathomable distrust ('Lenin trusts Stalin,' old Bolsheviks used to say, 'and Stalin trusts nobody'), had acquired an expression almost of authoritative benevolence.

Americans would have done well to ponder upon that face, for it was something new under the sun. The stubborn fact about the face of Stalin was that it was less the face of a man than of a historic force. It was the face of the first proletarian Bolshevik to become unquestioned lawgiver and dispenser of dogma to a party whose 4,600,000 members were bound to absolute obedience by an iron-clad discipline. It was also the face of the absolute ruler of some 180,000,000 people of 170 nationalities, living in one-sixth of the earth's surface, in a socialist empire spilling across Europe and Asia from Poland to the Pacific Ocean, and threatening to spill farther.'

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts Featuring Animation
  • Dates: #688 - Ended March 13, 2024