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The Reds versus the Whites Chess Set

This is a Chess set. We acquired it in 1995. Its medium is glazed and molded porcelain. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

This complete chess set, known as The Reds and the Whites (or The Communists and the Capitalists), is one of the early examples of propaganda porcelain produced by the State Porcelain Factory in the years immediately following the 1917 Russian Revolution. The set was designed by one of the greatest modelers at the factory, Natalia Danko, and was introduced soon after the establishment of communism in Russia.
Chess sets like this one were displayed in factory store windows in Moscow and exhibited by the new society regime at international expositions. Among the chessmen making up the Reds are the strapping blacksmith king, the beautiful farm maiden queen, and the harvester pawns. The Whites are shown as a king with frightening death mask, a dissolute queen whose cornucopia overflow with gold coins, and pawns as miserable workers bound in chains.

  • Red Face Cup, ca. 1920
  • enameled, gilt and silvered porcelain.
  • The Henry and Ludmilla Shapiro Collection; Partial gift and partial purchase....
  • 1989-41-61
  • Red Army Soldier Vase, 1933
  • porcelain (bisque).
  • The Henry and Ludmilla Shapiro Collection; Partial gift and partial purchase....
  • 1989-41-84

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Cite this object as

The Reds versus the Whites Chess Set; glazed and molded porcelain; 1994-122-5-a/ff

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibitions The Virtue in Vice and Making Design.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=The Reds versus the Whites Chess Set |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=2 March 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>