Rare pair of antique photographs showing General Lavr Kornilov (1870-1918), Premier Alexander Keresnky (1881-1970), and French Socialist Albert Thomas (1878-1932).
The photographs come from a collection that belonged to the photographer that accompanied Thomas on his visit to Russia in 1917.
In the wake of the February Revolution of 1917 in Russia Thomas was despatched as a special ambassador to Petrograd, his brief was to encourage continued Russian participation in the war against the Central Powers. His influence in Russian politics however was slight.
In 1914, at the start of World War I, Kornilov was appointed commander of the 48th Infantry Division, which saw combat in Galicia and the Carpathians. In 1915, he was promoted to the rank of major general. During heavy fighting, he was captured by the Austrians in April 1915, when his division became isolated from the rest of the Russian forces. As a major general, he was a high-value prisoner of war, but in July 1916 Kornilov managed to escape back to Russia and return to duty.
After the overthrow of Czar Nicholas II, he was given command of the Petrograd Military District in March 1917. On 8 March, Kornilov placed the Empress Alexandra and her children under house arrest at the Alexander Palace (Nicholas was still held at Stavka), replacing the Tsar's Escort and Combined Regiments of the Imperial Guard with 300 revolutionary troops. In July, after commanding the only successful front in the disastrous Russian offensive of June 1917, he became Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Provisional Government's armed forces.
In the mass discontent following the July Days, the Russian populace grew highly skeptical about the Provisional Government's abilities to alleviate the economic distress and social resentment among the lower classes. Kornilov, appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian army in July 1917, considered the Petrograd Soviet responsible for the breakdown in the military in recent times, and believed that the Provisional Government lacked the power and confidence to dissolve the Petrograd Soviet. Following several ambiguous correspondences between Kornilov and Alexander Kerensky, Kornilov commanded an assault on the Petrograd Soviet.
Kornilov and his fellow conspirators were placed under arrest in the Bykhov jail. On 19 November, a few weeks after the proclamation of Soviet power in Petrograd, they escaped from their confinement and made their way to the Don region, which was controlled by the Don Cossacks. Here they linked up with General Mikhail Alekseev. Kornilov became the military commander of the anti-Bolshevik Volunteer Army with Alekseev as the political chief. In the early morning of 13 April, a Soviet shell landed on his farmhouse headquarters and killed him. He was buried in a nearby village.
A few days later, when the Bolsheviks gained control of the village, they unearthed Kornilov's coffin, dragged his corpse to the main square and burnt his remains on the local rubbish dump.
Kerensky was a Russian lawyer and key political figure in the Russian Revolution of 1917. After the February Revolution of 1917 he joined the newly formed Russian Provisional Government, first as Minister of Justice, then as Minister of War, and after July as the government's second Minister-Chairman. A leader of the moderate-socialist Trudoviks faction of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, he was also vice-chairman of the powerful Petrograd Soviet. On 7 November, his government was overthrown by the Lenin-led Bolsheviks in the October Revolution. He spent the remainder of his life in exile
Size: 13 x 10 cm approx