The art of the Russian lacquer miniature is a unique part of decorative, applied and folk art, one that deeply reflects the national history and traditions of Russia. The first Russian art work with lacquer dates to the early 18th century when a chamber in Montplaisir Palace at Peterhof was decorated with lacquered panels, the work of early masters. The unique art of detailed painting on a papier-mache started in the late 18th century in village of Danilkino, later renamed to Fedoskino. After the Revolution of 1917 the three icon-painting villages – Palekh, Kholui and Mstera, were folowing the wind of big change in Communist Russia, adapting iconography techniques to lacquer miniature art. Special schools have been established at these places where artists train for five years before they become members of each village's art community. Each village has its unique style.
Russian lacquer boxes may depict scenes from Russian fairy tales, religious scenes, landscapes, stories from Russian literature, architectural structures like palaces and monasteries, or scenes from Russian traditional life. They get their name from the many layers of lacquer (most often, black and red) that are applied to their outside and inside sections. Coats of clear lacquer, or varnish, are the last layers to be put on and provide a stunning shine to the box.
Russian lacquer boxes are very well crafted. It can take up to six weeks to make a box out of papier-mache, a material artists prefer because it has been used for many centuries and, in contrast to wood, it is “stable” and a solid base for lacquer painting. It is the miniature paintings that bring real value to the lacquer art. A box painted by a highly skilled master is not a souvenir, but a work of art which can be passed from generation to generation.
We invite you to experience the magic power of Russian Lacquer Art for yourself.
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