Welcome to russianlacquerart.com, where we are proud to present a unique and continually changing collection
of lacquer art from the four centers of lacquered miniature painting: Fedoskino, Palekh, Kholui, and Mstera.
You'll also find detailed information about each of the villages, biographies of many of the artists, a history
of lacquer miniature painting, and some of the fairytales and other themes of this unique part of Russian culture.
Available for purchase from our collection are exclusive artworks of today's most talented and innovative miniaturists, from boxes and chests, to plates, eggs, and more. Every month, we visit each of the four lacquer art villages to expand our artist information section and to purchase the best new works from the artists themselves so you're assured of authentic, quality pieces at the best price possible.
You may order items directly on our website, with delivery in approximately 7-10 days.
Nearly all of the pieces we offer are unique, one-of-a-kind creations. Items that are sold are still available for viewing on our site!
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A little town of Palekh is located in 360 kilometers to the east from Moscow.This is about 60 kilometeres from town of Ivanovo, to which region Palekh belongs.
Palekh was previously a center of icon painting and as such it is mentioned several times in the documents of the 17th century.Icon painting was a family occupation and the craft was passed on from one generation to another.
The Revolution of October 1917 dealt a heavy blow to icon painting in Palekh and throughout Russia. Not only the holy images themselves but the artists who made them became enemies to Communist regime and were persecuted or arrested. As icon and mural paintings were no longer in demand many masters returned to agriculture others tried to go to other handicrafts such as shoemaking, carrier's trading, wickering bast shoes, making toys and dish. Some Palekh masters went to different towns looking for job.
In 1918 the former icon-painters established the First Palekh Co-operative of Decorative Art but it soon fell apart.
In 1922 Ivan I. Golikov being in Moscow saw a black papier-mache box from Fedoskino in the Handicraft Museum.
He painted a papier-mache piece using techniques of icon-painting and technology of the Lukutin lacquer work and had a success.
In 1923 Palekh masters won the first price at the All-Union Exhibition of Agriculture and Industry in Moscow.
Succesful exhibitions of their first works in Moscow and Venice inspired the artists, and on the 5th of December 1924 seven Palekh masters I.I.Golikov, I.M.Bakanov, A.I.Zubkov, I.I.Zubkov, A.V.Kotukhin, V.V.Kotukhin and I.V.Markichev organized an Artel of Ancient Painting.
The new times demanded new themes and subjects. Indeed their paintings abound in peasantry and revolutionary themes, such as reflecting the heroism of the people, reaping, hay making fishing, hunting, circle-dancing, merrymaking, horse-riding. From the very beginning Palekh painters made generous use of folk motives and poetry of Pushkin, Lermontov, Gorky and others.
The most difficult task for Palekh artists was to draw on a thing having form and volume. The range of articles was very wide: brooches, jars, small boxes, bead-boxes, cigarette-cases, snuff-boxes, powder-boxes, panels, glove boxes and so on.
For the transfering the experience of Old masters to young gifted people in 1933 was opened Palekh Art School.
On the 10th anniversary of the Artel on March 1935 came several hundreds of delegates. The Great meeting was opened by a Minister of Education of the Russian Federation. The State Museum of Palekh Arts was opened by the date. The Artel was renamed into Association of Palekh Artists.
Stalin's repressions of 1930-40s and tragedy of Great Patriotic War(World War II) did not pass Palekh artists,they lost some of their talents.
In the 1950s,when many of the first generation had passed away,the development of geniune Palekh was threatened by a learning towards realism which impoverished the poetic language of the painting and could have led to a consequent loss of many stylistic features inherited from Paalekh icon-painting.The changes that soon after that began in Soviet society helped Palekh to stand firm.Palekh College graduates of the late 60s and early 70s started a revival by turning back to the sources of Palekh.This generation has in many respects outlined the main features of today's Palekh and is paving the way for it's future development.The influx of gifted young people promises further development and prosperity in Palekh Art.
In the 1960s many talented painters arrived at Palekh and among them there were Boris Yermolayev, Nikolay Golikov, Alexey Kochupalov, Anatoliy Peskov, Valentin and Tatiana Khodovs, Alexander Klipov, Stanislav Butorin, Gennadiy Kochetov, Irina Livanova, Nina Bogachyova. In the 1970s Vladimir and Natalie Buldakovs, Nikolay Gribov, Yuriy and Yekaterina Schanitsyns, Vadim Zotov, Anna Kamanina, Nikolay Lopatin, Lubov Nekrasova, Olga Subbotina joined them. All of them took the traditions of Palekh seriously and started working them out imaginatively. The 1980s can be called the period of the renaissance of Palekh Art with their names.
Nowadays there are several different co-operatives and Workshops successfuly working in Palekh.
Based on Vadim Shchanitsyn's Book-"Palekh and Palekhians"1994, published by Zet Industrial Co.
Fedoskino is the site of the country's oldest lacquer miniature industry.
In the late 18th century merchant Ivan Korobov set up a factory of lacquer production in the village of Danilkovo (now Fedoskino) near Moscow ,which in the early 19th century was inherited by the son-in-law Piotr(or Peter)Lukutin. He increased its out put, and in 1828 earned the right to stamp the inner side of creative quests, perfection of painting technique and decorative ornamentation. The Lukutin's lacquers became known abroad.
The Lukutin's lacquer miniature was popular for its high artistic workmanship.The painting was done by oils,which compact brushwork and fine "transparent" strokes. Gold leaf and metallic powders were often used that showed through the translucent coat of paint.
Lukutin lacquer painting enjoyed the influence of Russian realistic art.The artists' proximity to folklore promted the creation of highly popular images.Scenes of tea-parties, women's gathering and troika's rides won great favour with the people.
The lacquer work brought out by the Vishnyakov factories had much in common with its Lukutin counterpart in terms of form and content. The Vishnyakov and Lukutin enterprises existed side by side for nearly a century; they were fine models of mutual influence. In 1904 The Lukutin heirs closed down their lacquer works.The former Lukutin Masters organized in 1910 the Fedoskino labour artel thus enabling the industry to servive in the conditions of dire competition between petty lacquer factories and lay the groundwork for a joint artistic process. a new stage was introduced in lacquer miniature painting.
After the Revolution of 1917 the Fedoskino artel was joined by young artists whose work reflected the life of that period , the stages in the development of Soviet State , Russia historical past. The "Troikas","Tea Parties" and "Women's Gatherings" were used as subjects for new , original compositions.Special attention was devoted to the subject in its integrity and its ornamental decor with the stress on traditional techniques:filigree, checker-work, circular and gold ornamentation. The highly attractive caskets, panels, brooches and boxes of different form of size with miniature painting and gold ornament, their dazzling lacquer surface and the play of their rich colors are remarkable blend of usefulness and beauty.
The contemporary Fedoskino miniature painting promotes the independent development of all genres of this unique art.
Old Fedoskino Masters of portraiture V.D.Lipitskiy,M.G.Pashinin, P.S.Davydov trasmited their rich experience and knowledge to the younger Fedoskino Masters: Nikolay Soloninkin, Lubov Pashinina and others.They have created fine portraits of political and military leaders ,writers and artists, heroes of labour and science in 1970-1980s.
Reviving the traditions of the decorative-ornamental genre painters S.Tardasov,V.Korsakov, Yu.Gusev ,and S.Monashov created in the 1980s works of art remarkable for their ornamental plasticity and highly subtle workmanship.
Fine works of Fedoskino art representative of landscape painting were created by I.I.Strakhov, Sergey P.Rogatov,Yuriy Karapayev, Sergey Kozlov,Mikhail Kornienko, Ye.Starykh who depicted the beauty of Moscow's environs.
The end of the past century was "Golden" time for the Top Fedoskino Masters as Mikhail Chizhov,A.Tolstov, Piotr Puchkov, Sergey Chistov,Viktor Antonov, Gennadiy Larishev.
Nowadays, very interesting works are created by Yelena Khomutinnikova, Anatoliy Kuznetsov, Sergey Kozlov, Oleg Shapkin, Nadezhda Strelkina ,Alexander Fyodorov,Sergey and Marina Rogatovs,Pavel Anokhin,Eduard Makarov, Alexander Mikheev, Igor Isaev and many others Top Fedoskino Artists.
The works of Fedoskino artists are displayed in private collections and in the Museums all over the World.
The old Russian village of Kholui (located in Ivanovo region) is known for it's remarkable scenic beauty. This unique corner of Russia seems to have been created precisely to astound the world with it's original charm. The clear blue waters of the river of Teza reflect the silvery boughs of the bordering willows and the domes of the white-stone 17th century Trinity Church.
In the spring river overflows it's banks flooding the whole district and turning the streets into real canals. Boats are used to get about the village--to kinder-garden, school or work. The high waters stays all of April. Then the land quickly dons it's verdant garb looking more attractive than ever after it's rejuvenating spring "wash" and inspiring the artists to new poetic landscapes.
Kholui is also famous for its old history.
The first mentioned in 1546 in Ivan the Terrible's deed it was granted fifty years later to Dmitriy Pozharsky by the Tsar of Moscow principality for his services to the country. One mile away from Kholui is the 18th century architectural monument--the complex of the former monastery "Borkovskaya Pustyn" founded and financed by Princes Pozharsky.
From times ago past icon painting was a hereditary occupation. The village's convenient location afforded close links with many towns of the state of Moscow and promoted the reproduction of the icons for the market. These were chiefly "popular" icons that required no special workmanship. Yet there were also pieces executed on a high artistic level boasting magnificent scripture and virtuoso chasing work on a gold ground.
The history of lacquer miniature in Kholui is very similar to Palekh and Mstera.
In 1931 the Mstera Branch of an art artel specializing in rug painting was set up in Kholui, and on July 1st, the 1934 it was developed into an art artel. it's more gifted icon painters, among them S.Mokin,K.Kosterin,M.Dobrynin and V.Puzanov-Molev began to paint lacquer objects of papier-mache made after Fedoskino technology.
In 1935 a school of team-apprenticeship was opened under the artel which was later re-organized in into Kholui vocational school. Over a thousand specialists for artistic folk crafts were trained in this unique educational establishment.
The final emergence of the new Kholui style took place in the 1940's. In those years many works of historical subjects were created by K.Kosterin,S.Mokin and Puzanov-Molev.
Kholui art is distinguished for it's more concrete and picturesque character as compared to Palekh and Mstera.It employs a wide range of warm ground colors , with preference for yellows, browns and reds, joined with a sparing ornament. In distinction from Mstera the Kholui landscapes lacks the formers light-colored receding prospects and comes out as an element than underlines and deepens the content; it is often symbolic. Kholui art also depicts figures on a large scale.
Kholui miniatures are more realistic, compares to Palekh's and Mstera's ones, but yet more decorative than those of Fedoskino. Their stylistic features were displayed to the best advantage in the landscape genre.
The art of Kholui miniature is the youngest of all the Russian lacquer crafts. in 1947 the artel welcomed the first graduates from vocational art school, those who form it's artistic nucleus today: V.Belov,V.Fomin, Nikolay Babrin, B.Tikhonravov, Boris Kiseleov,Nikolay Denisov,A.Kosterin,A.Kamorin.
The younger Kholui painters such as Viktor Yolkin,Vladimir Sedov,Alexander Smirnov, Piotr Mityashin, A. Sotskov and N.Shevtsov are working in the finest traditions of the older generation and some of them became teachers in Kholui Art School.
Each Folk Craft industry is not only a center of unique Art, but a place with it's own peculiar natural features, history way of life and culture. One of such unique centers is Mstera (or Mstyora, how do we call it in Russian).
Village of Mstera located on a rolling banks of Klyazma river in a beautiful scenic spot some 60 miles(100 km) from the old Russian town of Vladimir.
The first information of Mstera as a village of flourishing trade and crafts goes back to the 17th century. Lack of arable land forced its dwellers to practice gardening, crafts and trade. From times of old styles of icon painting, talented needle workers specializing in white satin-stitch embroidery, copper and silver chasers and restorers of icons and frescoes.
In Mstera icon painting came to its final decline at the beginning of the 20th century owing to the emergence of the industrial icon production. Icon painting lost it's significance as an artistic craft. Nevertheless the rich experience, knowledge and skill of Mstera's icon painters did not disappear. Several arduous years went by in search of a new sphere of application for their talents.
1931 was a significant year for Mstera Art.On july 22 an artel was set up that was to specialize in decorating papier-mache objects. It was called "Proletarian Art", a name quite in tune with the times. In a short span of time Mstera's best Masters learned the technique of tempera painting and making papier-mache objects. Yet much remained to be done to bring out all of the aspects of their artistic tradition that could contribute to the emergence of a new art.
The choice of a new style had behind it the joint experience of several generations of artist, but the foundations were laid by Nikolay Klykov,Ivan Serebryakov,Ye.Yurin,I.Morozov, A.Kotyagin,A.Bryagin,I.Fomin and G.Dmitriev.
Making use of all progressive elements of Old Russian culture Mstera's box painting discovered it's own style that was quite different from the kindred crafts of Palekh and Kholui.
Mstera's box is known for the multi-colored ground of it's miniatures painted in light-turquoise and ochre-pink shades. Black is absolutely absent from the color palette. The landscape is painted in a realistic manner. Another typical feature of Mstera's box is the many colored treatment of the trees' foliage that is represented by means of local spots imparting a special decor to the whole miniature. Mstera also offers a more realistic depiction of human figures. It's masters hardly ever use gold to outline the forms-it is found mainly in the ornament.
The vivid works of the founders of Mstera Art have had a favorable influence on the younger artists. In the late 1950's and of course of the 1960's there emerged the Art of a new generation of Msters's Masters--N.Shishakov, M.Dmitrieva, Yekaterina Zonina, Lev Fomichev, Lidiya Demidova, Yuriy Vavanov,A. Krylov, Leonid Zuyikov, Vsevolod Nekosov and Piotr Sosin.
Mstera's lacquer box is vivid evidence of the remarkable viability of old Russian painting and folk decorative Art.
A Matryoshka doll or a Russian nested doll (often incorrectly referred to as a Babushka doll - babushka means "grandmother" in Russian), is a set of dolls of decreasing sizes placed one inside the other. "Matryoshka" is a derivative of the Russian female first name "Matryona", which was a very popular name among peasants in old Russia. The name "Matryona" in turn is related to the Latin root "mater" and means "mother", so the name is closely connected with motherhood and in turn the doll has come to symbolize fertility.
The first appearance of Matryoshka is dated from 1890, and are said to have been inspired by souvenir dolls from Japan. However, the concept of nested objects was familiar in Russia, having been applied to carved wooden apples and Easter eggs; the first Fabergé egg, in 1885, had a nesting of egg, yolk, hen, and chick.
The story goes that Sergeiy Maliutin, a painter from a folk crafts workshop in the Abramtsevo estate of a famous Russian industrialist and patron of arts Savva Mamontov, saw a set of Japanese wooden dolls representing Shichi-fuku-jin, the Seven Gods of Fortune. The largest doll was that of Fukurokuju a happy, bald god with an unusually long chin and within it nested the six remaining deities. Inspired, Maliutin drew a sketch of a Russian version of the toy. It was carved by Vasiliy Zvezdochkin and painted by Sergei Maliutin at the Childrens Education Workshop-Salon in Abramtsevo. It consisted of eight dolls; the outermost was a girl holding a rooster, six inner dolls were girls, the fifth doll was a boy, the innermost a baby.
In 1900, M.A. Mamontova, the wife of Savva Mamontov, presented the dolls at the World Exhibition in Paris and the toy earned a bronze medal. Soon, many other places in Russia started making matryoshkas.
During Perestroika, the leaders of the Soviet Union became a common theme depicted on matryoshka. Starting with the largest, Mikhail Gorbachev, then Leonid Brezhnev , then Nikita Khrushchev, Josef Stalin and finally the smallest, Vladimir Lenin. The newer versions start with Dmitry Medvedev and then follow with Vladimir Putin, Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Joseph Stalin and then Vladimir Lenin.
Modern artists create many new styles of nesting dolls. Common themes include animal collections, portraits and caricatures of famous politicians, musicians and popular movie stars. Matryoshka dolls that feature communist leaders of Russia became very popular among Russian people in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today, some Russian artists specialize in painting themed matryoshka dolls that feature specific categories of subjects, people or nature.
Areas with notable matryoshka styles include towns of Sergiyev Posad, Semyonovo , Polkholvsky Maidan, and Kirov.