Richard Zarrin (Rihards Zariņš): a star of the Expedition of Storing State Papers at the beginning of the 20th century7 2018

Richard Zarrin (Rihards Zariņš): a star of the Expedition of Storing State Papers at the beginning of the 20th century

Richard Zarrin is one of the best-known artists who worked at the Expedition of Storing State Papers. His works include the famous pre-revolution banknotes katenka and petenka, the first soviet postage stamp, the State Coat of Arms of the Republic of Latvia and the logos of the Expedition of Storing State Papers that formed the basis of Goznaks modern logo.

A peasant by birth, Richard Zarrin was born in Livonia in 1869. His artistic talent became obvious while he was still at school. In 1887 he went to Saint Petersburg to study at the Central School of Technical Drawing of Baron Stieglitz. After graduating from the school cum laude, he studied various drawing techniques in Europe where he met his future wife Eva, Swede by origin.
In 1899 Zarrin started working at the Expedition of Storing State Papers, and in the same year he started preparing a promotional booklet of the Expedition for the World Fair in Paris. He gradually became an artistic manager of the enterprise and dedicated two most fruitful decades of his creative life to working at the Expedition.

At the end of the 19th the beginning of the 20th century, lavishly illustrated books, calendars and postcards were significant products of the Expedition. Richard Zarrin was the author of many of them. In 1902, the Expedition created an illustrated book dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Ministry of Finance; Zarrin created all the art cards and some of the paintings in it.

The artist also took a considerable part in designing the main product of the Expedition of Storing State Papers currency units. Besides working upon katenka and petenka (banknotes with the portraits of Catherine II and Peter the Great), Richard Zarrin participated in projecting nearly all the banknotes of the time and created a lot of banknote projects that were not put into circulation. He continued designing the banknotes even after the beginning of World War I. It is interesting that some of his sketches are a far cry from the exchange units of those years put into circulation. There are complex compositions on them, for example, Hermes, an antique god of commerce.

In 1917, after the February revolution, the artist was engaged in designing the banknotes of the Interjacent Government. There appeared the emblem of the Interjacent Government on them an eagle with drooping wings and without the imperial regalia, and the building of the Taurida Palace in Petrograd where the State Duma sat in session. In the same year, Zarrin participated in developing the revolutionary credit a series of new Russian money that was never put into circulation.

In 1919 the artist moved to Latvia that became an independent state. There, together with Vilis Krumins, he created the image of the State Coat of arms of the Republic approved in 1921.
Richard Zarrin also designed the Latvian coins, including the famous 5-lat silver coin with the image of Milda a young girl in the national costume who became one of the symbols of Latvia. One can see her on the Latvian coins with the face values of 1 and 2 euros now.

The artists creative heritage is extensive: he worked upon currency units, postage stamps, calendars, postcards, posters, book design and bookplate creating. No doubt, Richard Zarrin is an artist who made a huge contribution to the history of the Expedition of Storing State Papers of the beginning of the 20th century.

Nina Chernysheva,
The Exhibition Complex of Goznak

Translated by Tatiana Ugryumova
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