Russian Matryoshka – perhaps the most famous handpainted Russian toy. Matryoshka appeared in the mid 90s of the XIX century, between 1893 and 1896. And the cost was from 6 to 8 rubles apiece. Over the years, its price fell to 35 cents, which indicates the beginning of mass commercial release of toys. Surprisingly, at first matryoshka was not as popular as it is now. It stood among the many similar “Russian style” products. At the origin of the creation of the first matryoshka was Mamontov family. Brother of patron Savva Mamontov – Anatoly Ivanovich Mamontov and his wife Marina Alexandrovna – held the store “child care” in Moscow, where a new toy appeared. And in 1900 matryoshka was waiting for success. Marina Alexandrovna was awarded the bronze medal of the World Exhibition in Paris – for toys, among which was the matryoshka.
Unfortunately, the exact name of the creator of the first matryoshka sunk into oblivion. There is no written evidence. Some researchers have called V.P. Zvezdochkin the creator of Matryoshka. On the creation of toys he wrote: “… once I saw in a magazine a toy carved of wood” and he tried to carve the likeness of a human figure. A.I. Mamontov demanded more and more new designs. Zvezdochkin’s carved figure was ridiculous at first look, reminiscent of like a nund. “According to Zvezdochkin, it was he who gave the toy female shape and form. Mamontov approved the idea with inserts.
Some historians believe the prototype of nesting dolls were Japanese painted wooden toys – from the land of the rising sun. Japanese kokeshi influenced the idea of Russian nesting dolls. But its formation has occurred on the basis of Russian art and folk-based craft.
There is a Russian version of the birth of the “lumps” for the nesting dolls. At the end of the XIX century were in fashion easter eggs, to the creation of which involved well-known artists. They even devoted a special meeting of the Arts Council of Handicraft Museum. In fact, the principle of collecting eggs with 3-5 refills could form the basis of nesting dolls. A painted egg with the face of the Virgin or Christ could very well prompt the pictorial idea of wooden female figure of the mother.
It is the “mother” that determined its name. The village girl’s name Matrona with root “mat” was the most common. From it exuded kindness and parental affection. But who exactly called the toy the same name is unknown. In 1910, the word “matryoshka” was taken in quotes – as unusual for a city dweller. But very soon the word has become synonymous. It lives its own life and is not even translated into other languages. The name and form of the new toys have determined the style of its execution. Famous artist, architect and graphic Sergei Vasilyevich Malyutin was called the first author of the painted matryoshka.
With its bright murals matryoshka suddenly became a toy and souvenir card of the country. Workshop of Mamontov could no longer cope with orders from abroad. The store was bought by S.T.Morozov who built its branch in Sergiev Posad. Already in 1911 there were 21 listed items of dolls. Now Matryoshka can be found everywhere. However, from the old days has survived only a shape.