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These beautiful Russian miniature paintings on parier mache boxes and other small items are treasured all over the world.

Fedoskino, Mstera, Kholui and Palekh are the names of the villages where the miniature works are created. The artist nearly always signs the painting and includes the village of origin. Some date their work.

Fedoskino lacqueware dates back to 1795. the artists of this village are known for painting folk pictures and emulating 19th century easel painting. They are also known for portraiture and rural scenes.

Mstera is chronicled as a centre of icon painting in the early 18th century. The use of papier mache began there in 1930. Mstera paintings differ considerably from those of the other three centres. Paintings are much paler in tone and include intricate designs showing fields, charming villages, forests and animals.

Palekh was historically equated with icon painting. The use of brilliant colors to portray rural scenes, fairy tales, legends and historical themes has made Palekh famous enough that Lacquered Boxes are often referred to as "Palekh Boxes."

Palekh boxes are made by brushing strips of thin cardboard with flour paste which are then wound around the forms and pressed. The shapes are drenched with warm linsed oil and then passed to cabinet makers for finishing as the papier mache can now be worked like wood. A primer mix of oil and clay is applied to prepare the background for the coat of black lacquer. At this point the boxes are ready for the artists who prepare their own paints by adding dry pigment to egg emulsion just as their ancestors did when preparing to paint icons. The artist will apply the first of a wide range of colors to be used,
then the next and so on, each time putting the partially completed work back into the drying stove to bake each color. After further repeated lacquering and drying, the work is polished and complete.

Kholui dates back to 1613 when painters also specialized in icon painting which were sold in large quantities all over Russia. The use of papier mache for lacquerware began in 1934 and followed two trends - the romantic and the realistic. The romantic depicts people and landscapes in a poetic fairy tale style. The realistic deals primarily in landscapes and people in an exaggerted style. The artists are known for their painting of old Russian architecturwe.

I have included some pictures of these boxes in the next few posts.

I also wish to add that the mimiature paintings have been painted through a magnifying glass since the datail is very intricate and small.


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  • PALEC3girls
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Thank you for your replies.
I just wanted to mention that the boxes shown here are about 1 inch by 1 1/2 inches in size and the detail is such that under magnification you can see the girls' eyelashes.
The boxes do come in larger sizes but then there will be a much larger and more detailed painting.

Here is another image of a small piece of jewelry, it has a diameter of about 1 inch.


Images (1)

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