Art crafts of the Moscow region
LACQUERED ARTICLES FROM FEDOSKINO
The Fedoskino factory of miniature painting is one of the oldest handicraft centres in Moscow region.
The art of miniature painting was at its height in the early 19th century. The factory artisans _ manufactured once fashionable snuff-boxes, coffers, teacaddies, cigarette cases and other items, decorated with ingenious miniatures and covered with lacquer. But in the late 19th—early 20th centuries their craft was on the decline, articles became plain and lacklustre.
The craft received a new impetus after the October Revolution of 1917. The art of Fedoskino was acquiring its own style in depicting historical and genre scenes. Folklore themes were introduced. The present-day art is characterized by the depiction of landscapes of Moscow region, by lyrical compositions and modern themes. Artisans are striving to represent in their works the social events which are typical of our times.
Among the artists of the Fedoskino factory there are young masters and those with vast experience. The traditions of many generations of Fedoskino craftsmen are still alive in the ancient technique of manufacturing papier-mache articles and their forms, in the style of miniature painting and the use of mother-of-pearl and metal.
Unlike artists from Palekh, Mstera and Kholui, who paint in distemper, Fedoskino masters execute their miniatures in oils, using a technique of three-four layer painting. The completed miniature is covered with a transparent lacquer coating and polished to create a specific decorative effect and that particular brightness characteristic of the lacquered miniature. Fedoskino masters are also famous for their methods of multilayer painting in transparent oils on gold or metal leaf and mother-of- pearl. Such a background makes the colours especially bright and expressive.
The workshops of the “Gzhel” production association are situated in the ancient centre of ceramics manufacture known since the 16th century. The art of pottery in Gzhel was flourishing in the 18th century, when its numerous masters started to manufacture glazed earthenware—various jugs, plates and dishes, kvass mugs and other articles adorned with painting on the white background. In the first half of the 19th century Gzhel workshops started to produce glazed and semi-glazed ware painted in blue. This was a further development of traditional art. Chinaware manufacture was also introduced— the dosigns retained features of folk art. However, in the early 20th century the craft was on the decline, the ancient art became dull and simplistic.
Production was restarted in the 1930s with the creation of artisans associations. But the real renaissance of the Gzhel ceramics began after the Great Patriotic war. Contemporary masters and artists have greatly enriched the art of ceramics drawing extensively on the experience of the old craftsmen from Gzhel.
The artists and potters produce chinaware—delicate tableware and exquisite sculptures, decorated in freestyle brushwork—that attracts attention by its modern features, by the masters’ skill and imagination. All this makes Gzhel chinaware distinctive and unique—things largely determined by the mastery and talent of painters who can easily vary their motifs. Watching a finished article one can see the light touch of the artist’s brush and his unique way of expressing his own feelings.
The emergence of Zhostovo handicraft is connected with Lukutin lacquers. In the early 19th century papier-mache articles were manufactured in some villages around Fedoskino. Later on, the artisans from this region started to manufacture lacquered tin trays ornamented with genre or decorative painting.
Zhostovo artists paint in oils, using the technique of multi-layer coating, mainly on the black (sometimes also on the red, blue or pale-yellow) background. The painted tray is lacquered and polished to add to its integrity, perfection and beauty and enhance the decorative effect of the bright-coloured composition. The art of Zhostovo masters is traditionally characterized by their creative and impromptu execution of each composition and motif. No two trays are the same.
After a period of decline in the early 20th century, the handicraft revived after the Great October Socialist revolution. Now Zhostovo masters actively develop the best traditions of their ancestors. The original art is being constantly enriched through the creative teamwork’ of many artists of consummate skill and with modern attitudes. An exquisite flower arrangement on the black-lacquered tray radiates joy by its harmony of colours and a particular Zhostovo-style beauty of big roses, dahlias, peonies and poppies, intertwined with tiny flowers and delicate stalks, which seem to disappear into the varnished background. Freehand brushwork reveals the soul, imagination and taste of every master.
TOYS FROM BOGORODSKOYE
Carved wooden statuettes and toys— a rare Russian handicraft—are manufactured in the village of Bogorodskoye, located near Zagorsk. This handicraft has existed in Bogorodskoye since the 17th century, but the earliest preserved articles date to the late 18th century. Carving in the 19th century is characterized by a great variety of genres. Figurines represent animals and birds, every-day scenes, there are also various moving toys. Masters used mainly soft linden wood.
The skill of wood carvers was handed over from generation to generation. Craftsmen developed their own habits of work with a chisel and knife and their own technique of decorative carving. One of the outstanding features in the art of Bogorodskoye masters is their ability to find the most perfect and laconic silhouette of individual figures and the entire composition. This makes their work so lucid and easily understood.
Much imagination and good humour is used by the masters from Bogorodskoye for creating new compositions which poetically describe every-day life. Their characters go in for sport, study at school, explore outer space. Decorative sculpture holds a prominent place in Bogorodskoye carving. Statuettes represent various animals, fast troikas and heroes of Russian fairy-tales.
The art of Bogorodskoye carving, based on ancient traditions, is made richer by new generations of artisans who draw their inspiration from our modern life.
The first Russian matreshka doll was created in the late 19th century by artist S. Malyutin and turner V. Zvezdochkin. It represented a girl in a printdress, a white apron and a bright-coloured kerchief, with a rooster in her hands. This wooden doll contained seven other dolls, each nesting inside each other and ornamented in a different way. The new doll immediately caught public attention by its peculiar Russian look and style.
The workshop in Moscow, which manufactured the first Matreshka doll, closed at the beginning of the 20th century. All the models of toys and dolls, including those of Matreshka, were handed over to the educational model workshop in Sergievsky settlement (now Zagorsk). The Matreshkas manufactured there very soon gained much popularity. In 1900 they were displayed at the Paris Exhibition and from 1904 the workshop started to manufacture the dolls not only for home markets but also for export. Matreshkas were decorated in many ways following the imagination of individual masters. Most popular were Matreshka dolls representing 6, 8 and 12 generations. Turners displayed their virtuosity by making up to 50 dolls in a single set.
In 1913 the manufacture of turned toys, including Matreshka dolls, was concentrated in the association of toy-makers. After the October revolution, that is in 1928, it was transformed into a big factory—now Zagorsk toy factory No. 1.
The factory manufactures several varieties of Matreshka dolls which are very popular throughout the world. Big Matreshkas, containing 50 and 60 smaller dolls, are produced to mark outstanding events and for displays. The first doll in such a set is about one meter high, while the last one is less than one centimeter. Visitors to many exhibitions in the Soviet Union and abroad do not stop admiring such Matreshka sets.
KHOTKOVO WOOD AND BONE CARVING
A great variety of carved wooden articles is offered by the Khotkovo wood and bone carving factory. Their manufacture is associated with the work of the gifted Russian carver V. P. Vornos- kov, an apprentice from a workshop set up in the 1880s. In 1906 Vornoskov himself opened a small educational workshop in the village of Kudrino, which started to manufacture original articles. Objects from Vornoskov’s workshop are made of various kinds of toned and polished wood. They were in great demand and were displayed at various exhibitions in the early 20th century.
After the Great October Socialist revolution artisans’ associations were set up in the area which later combined into a big factory.
Today, the traditions of this youngest of the crafts in Moscow region are developed by a new generation of carvers, who create original and interesting works.
Bone carving was started by the Khotkovo factory after the War. The masters have developed their own original technique of working in plain bone and produced a wide variety of items. At present, the artists manufacture miniature bone statuettes, delicately carved ornaments and exquisite figurines from hard wood, mainly, boxwood. The factory’s leading masters have created a great deal of elegant and expressive statuettes.
Bright-coloured shawls and kerchiefs, so much popular nowadays, are manufactured in the town of Pavlovsky Posad at the Moscow production association.
The manufacture of woollen and semi-woollen kerchiefs developed between 1860 and 1880 before it acquired a typical national character. The traditional art of making ornamented kerchiefs is associated with the dexterity of carvers of pattern boards, from which the design is transferred to the fabric, and the skill of printers. The refinement of colour of roses and other flowers and their original arrangement on the fabric bring the kerchiefs to an extraordinary degree of perfection.
After the October revolution, throughout 1920-1930s, a still wider variety of kerchiefs appeared and their quality improved. In the post-war years the production of ornamented kerchiefs was further developed on the basis of woollen and semi-woollen fabrics. The ancient handicraft traditions and skill of artists from Pavlovsky Posad were reborn in the magnificent hand-printed shawls and kerchiefs.
At present, the factory workers create new designs of modern kerchiefs, the artists from this old enterprise strive to preserve the ornamentation and style characteristic of traditional art, famous for flower and plant arrangements, bright colours and the variety of designs. This artistic heritage is used by contemporary masters for creating kerchiefs.
The Pavlovsky kerchief goes unchanged throught many years retaining its style and peculiar features. It is in great demand in other countries: many foreign firms manufacture their kerchiefs on patterns of Pavlovsky masters.