Stepan Sokolovskii, Novoe vremia, and the Cartoons of Empire

In: Experiment
Zachary Hoffman History Department, Highland School Warrenton, VA USA

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Stepan Fedorovich Sokolovskii (pen name Coré) served as the primary caricaturist for the prominent St. Petersburg newspaper Novoe vremia (New Times, 1868–1917) in the late 1890s and early 1900s. While his vibrant style and prolific output have led his cartoons to appear frequently in scholarship, few studies examine his work specifically. Interestingly, his illustrations for Novoe vremia focus almost exclusively on international politics, and thus, prominently engage in national and ethnic stereotypes. These caricatures not only offered eye-catching and amusing visual depictions of foreign relations, they also showed Russia’s imperial rivals as buffoonish back-stabbers that represented the worst excesses of imperialist exploitation. In this way, Sokolovskii’s works offer an intriguing snapshot of popular attitudes towards Russia’s allies and enemies. This essay surveys the broad themes of Sokolovskii’s work and examines the ways his drawings encapsulated complex international conflicts and offered pithy visual representations of Novoe vremia’s loyalist and nationalistic take on foreign affairs. Further, it fills a gap in the scholarship by shedding light on the biography of this prolific artist and examining his views on political caricature as a medium.

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