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Russia Restituenda

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Alphonse Maria Mucha (1860 - 1939) was a Czech Art Nouveau painter. However, he did a great many posters and prints. The period of his work has become known as the Belle Epoque. In Russia restituenda (Russia Must Recover) one can see the stylistic influence of Renaissance stained glass images, particularly of the Madonna and Child, an influence that is also present in his more characteristic art nouveau poster works. This poster, which served as a plea for help for starving Russian children, is one of Mucha's most moving. After the collapse of the Russian provisional government to the Soviets, Russia fell victim to civil war and a crippling economic situation. In addition to the casualties of war, millions died through widespread disease and starvation. Western countries were called upon to send shipments of food and grain. Mucha's depiction of the sorrowful and exhausted figure of Mother Russia with a frail child in her arms draws upon the Christian iconography of the Virgin and Child, particularly in his inclusion of faint halos behind.