Friday, 2 October 2015

Souvenirs from Russia: Palekh lacquered miniatures

Palekh lacquered miniature decorative dish


During my last stay in London I found this beautiful decorative place in a local charity shop. And this is not just an ordinary decorative plate but a real treasure: an authentic Palekh lacquered miniature. Distinctive features of Palekh miniatures are brightly painted scenes over the black background;  elongated, graceful figures(as on icons) and elaborate gold and/or silver ornamentation applied in fine lines throughout the painting. A genuine miniature also has on it a name of the artist and the year when it was created. My dish dates from 1989 and the artist's name is T.Bolshakova.
The exquisite, highly detailed miniatures painted in Palekh are called "small miracles" and they are on a great demand among the collectors throughout the world. So, I was really lucky to have mine for 8 GB pounds only. The painted image is of Ivan attempting to capture the mythical Fire-bird.
The Palekh art didn't exist till the beginning of the 20th century. Previously the small Russian village was a center of icon painting. The Revolution of 1917 changed that, the new government closed down the churches and banned icon production. The holy images were no longer on demand and the icon painters of Palekh found themselves out of work. The new times demanded new themes and subjects. So, Palekh artists had to use their skills and technique to create something different and they started to paint characters and scenes from real life, literature and fairytales using papier-mâché boxes as their canvas. Below are a few examples of beautiful Palekh miniatures from collections of different museums of Russia

Palekh lacquered miniature 1934
"Tsar Saltan" miniature, 1934

Palekh lacquered miniature 1939
"Ismail fortress' storm" miniature, 1939

Palekh lacquured miniature 1945
"War between Russians and Tatars" miniature, 1945

Palekh lacquered miniature 1950
"Welcoming the heroes of Socialist Labor" miniature, 1950

Palekh lacquered miniature 1955
"Bloom, the land of kolkhoz" miniature, 1955

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