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Lenin and Stalin in Gorky, 1922


Not on view

In this widely reproduced image, Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Ilich Lenin—the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution and founder of the U.S.S.R.—appear to share a friendly moment together outdoors at Gorki, Lenin’s estate just south of Moscow. Although Stalin did visit Lenin there frequently, the photograph has been heavily reworked: retouchers smoothed Stalin’s pockmarked complexion, lengthened his shriveled left arm, and increased his stature so that Lenin seems to recede benignly beside his trusted heir apparent. The reality was quite different: in a letter dictated around the time the picture was taken, Lenin described Stalin as intolerably rude and capricious and recommended that he be removed from his position as the Communist Party’s secretary general.

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