Fedoskino Lacquer Boxes


Fedoskino miniature is a traditional Russian lacquer miniature painting on papier-mâché and wood, named after its original center Fedoskino, an old village widely known from the late 18th century. The contemporary Fedoskino painting preserves the typical features of Russian folk art.

Fedoskino boxes are relatively easy to distinguish from other three styles of lacquer miniature. The artists of the Fedoskino village paint very realistic scenes. Artists that paint the Fedoskino style specialize primarily on the accuracy and reality illustrated in the paintings. The most common Fedoskino themes are realistic portraits of people, animals, architecture or realistic landscapes. Unlike the Palekh, Mstera and Kholuy style artists, Fedoskino artists use oil paint for their miniature art. Several coats of paint and lacquer are applied before work on a project is complete.

The use of oil paint, typically applied in several layers, is a distinctive feature of Fedoskino miniature, as well as the use of mother-of-pearl, pure gold or silver leaf under segments of the background to create the effect of a shimmering glow or silvery sparkle. Many boxes are painted inside and outside in imitation tortoise-shell, birch bark, mahogany or tartan.

Fedoskino is the site of the country's oldest lacquer miniature industry. In the late 18th century merchant I.P.Korobov set up a factory of lacquer production in the village of Danilkovo (now Fedoskino), which in the early 19th century was inherited by his son-in-law P.V.Lukutin. He increased its output, and in 1828 earned the right to stamp the inner side of the lids of his produce with the state coat of arms. This was the time of new creative quests, perfection of painting technique and decorative ornamentation. The Lukutin lacquers became known abroad. The Lukutin lacquer miniature was popular for its high artistic workmanship. The painting was done in oils, with 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 prompted the creation of highly popular images. Scenes of tea-parties, women's gatherings, and troika-rides won great favor 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 labor workshop thus enabling the industry to survive 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 Great October Socialist Revolution the Fedoskino workshop was joined by young artists whose work reflected the life of that period, the stages in the development of the Soviet state, Russia's 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 and size with miniature paintings and gold ornament, their dazzling lacquer surface and the play of their rich colors are a remarkable blend of usefulness and beauty. The contemporary Fedoskino miniature painting promotes the independent development of all the genres of this unique art. Masters of portraiture V. D. Lipitsky, M. G. Pashinin, P.S.Davydov transmit their rich experience and knowledge to the younger generation: N. M. Soloninkin, A. I. Kozlov, N. P. Aldoshkin. They have created fine portraits of political and military leaders, writers and artists, heroes of labor and science. The works of Fedoskino artists are displayed in the country's central museums, and at all the national and foreign Soviet exhibitions. Many of them have won high awards. Over 60 per cent of the work produced at the Fedoskino factory is exported. The optimistic, life-asserting art of the Fedoskino miniature is captivating in its sincerity and poetic attitude to life.

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