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Painting on Papier-Mache (Fedoskino, Palekh, Mstera, Kholui)

 The Museum preserves a varied collection of miniature lacquer painting on papier-mache. This kind of applied and decorative art appeared in the village of Fedoskino, Moscow region, at the turn of the 19th century.
Its history began at the end of the 18th century, when a merchant P.I. Korobov organized an enterprise producing lacquered articles of papier-mache in the village of  Danilkovo not far from Fedoskino. Soon the  handicraft spread throughout the district.

  The Museum collection presents works made at the factory of  Lukutin (P.I. Korobov’s successors). The earliest works date back to the mid-19th century. The products of these workshops are stylistically similar: boxes, caskets, cigarette-cases, purses, snuff-boxes of papier-mache, decorated with realistically treated  miniatures, depicting popular  scenes. The traditional “troikas”, “tea-drinking parties”, scenes of  folk life are usually free reproductions of  paintings and drawings of  Russian artists.  Since the second half of the 20th century, there prevailed poetic and romantic themes in Fedoskino works. . 

In Fedoskino miniatures there developed a special manner of painting. Scenes are painted in oil against a deep black background and covered with vanish. The characteristic features are bright local colors, laconic drawing, distinct compositions,  usually including  a few figures. In Fedoskino works we can see a variety of subjects. Alongside with traditional tea parties and round dances, heroic themes of  the Revolution, the civic and  Great Patriotic wars, space flights, are  often depicted.  . 
 Many  landscapes are deeply poetical. Among them “Autumn” by G.I. Larishchev. Decorative and ornamental paintings, known in the 19th century, are widely used in contemporary works, as well.  The diverse artistic techniques demonstrate the great skill of the Fedoskino artists.   

Other centers of lacquer miniature painting -  Palekh, Mstera and Kholui -  appeared after the Revolution. The  idea to  produce  lacquer articles of papier-mache was borrowed from the Fedoskino craftsmen. The largest and the most significant  among the new centers is the village of  Palekh in Ivanovo region. There flourished  icon-painting for several centuries in the past. The  best  features of this  heritage were revised and introduced to the  new kind of  applied and decorative art,  initiated by the Palekh artists. The Palekh artistic manner was affected by a superb technique of drawing and magnificent colors, worked out over the centuries.

The particular  methods of a flat space treatment were preserved  and, at the same time,  Palekh lacquer miniatures present an original kind of  tempera painting. The Museum collection of  Palekh  miniature painting  is unique. It  represents  different periods, but  it is especially rich in  the works  produced by the artists of  the elder generation: I.I. Zubkov, I.V. Markichev,  I.M. Bakanov, A.I. Vatagin, N.M. Zinoviev. The most remarkable are works of I.I. Golikov, who initiated the classical  Palekh style. 

I.I. Golikov’s  plate “Battle”, praising the stormy and rebellious revolutionary epoch, is characteristic. This most dynamic composition conveys an insuppressible movement and intensity of  severe  battle.  The galloping green, lilac, pink, blue, red horses are depicted in the most complicated views. The life of the Soviet village is originally reflected in I.I. Golikov works. The figures of his characters in the snuffbox   “Tree Musicians” are elongated, the flowing fold of their clothes are modeled with highlights, like in the icons. 

  The Palekh artists are brightly individual. They create original compositions on various themes. The scenes from Russian fairy tales are depicted with wonderful fantasy. In these works, alongside with fabulous images, realistic characters are poetically portrayed. The powder-box “Noon” is a classical example of miniature painting. The great ornamental skill is traced in the thing gold patterns decorating Palekh caskets. The Palekh artists are also known as outstanding decorators, book illustrators and masters of colorful monumental paintings

The village of Mstera in Vladimir region is another center of miniature painting, famous for its  icon-painters in the past. For all similarity with other centers, Mstera lacquer miniatures are of a distinct character. In Mstera paintings the black background is ignored. The beauty of  the surrounding world is rendered in a poetic conventional manner. The decorative nature appear in bright painting without contrasting colors, with a favorite   combination of warm tones: golden, red, white and clear green and blue tints. The dynamic rhythm of  drawing is achieved by tightly curled waves, thick clouds, indented  coastlines, red and green hills, expressive figures of  running animals. The human figures look  somewhat stumpy.. 

The village of  Kholui in Ivanovo region is the youngest center of lacquer miniature painting, which was also based on icon-painting. Here, like in Mstera, the black background is practically absent and the surrounding world is realistically treated. Heroic episodes  from Russian history and modern  scenes are rendered in complicated many-figured compositions. The color scheme is composed of  characteristic contrasting combinations of  warm and cold tones. In some works  the color symbolism can be traced. The figures and objects are  special. The  elongated human figures in streaming  clothes, flapping   flags, wild  manes of galloping  horses are  contoured with flexible lines. Such are the works of the handicraft founders – S.A. Mokin, V.D. Puzanov, K.V. Kosterin, and their successors: B.V. Tikhonravov, I.B. Baburin, N.N. Denisov and others.