Large Cast Iron Bas-Relief Portrait of Stalin, circa 1939-1941.
Probably intended for wall display in an office or on the front of a public building, this massive piece measures 9 ½ " in diameter (24 cm), 5/8" integral loop at top, 1/4" lip all around the circumference, about ¾ " deep at its widest point; weighs approximately 4.5 lb. A remarkably good likeness, albeit one that makes Stalin look somewhat younger and definitely healthier than he actually looked at the time.
The reverse has round foundry mark "Ural Kamensk" (in the city of Kamensk-Uralsky, Sverdlov Region). This mark on Soviet iron castings is very scarce compared with the Kasli or Kusa maker marks.
The original model for this piece was created in 1938 by the acclaimed Soviet sculptor Leonid Shervud. Interestingly, unlike the nearly identical, more common castings by the Kasli foundry, it does not have the sculptor's initials or a 1938 date. This leads us to believe that it was probably made in the following few years, most likely between 1939 and 1941. Production of propaganda items such as this bas-relief ceased in the summer of 1941 following the German invasion; by the time it resumed in the mid 1940s, the more "up to date" portraits of Stalin wearing a military uniform had become prevalent replacing the earlier, younger image of him wearing a "party jacket".
The bas-relief is in outstanding, excellent condition - especially considering its intended use for an outdoor display. Unlike many other cast iron pieces of the period, there is only minimal oxidation, mostly on the reverse. The black finish on the obverse is exceptionally well preserved having only minor scuffs. There are no dents, visible dings or significant scratches. A superb piece!