Now On View

Online: Images of the People: Russian Lacquer Painting

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After the Bolshevik Revolution, Russian icon painters were out jobs. In villages outside Moscow, Soviet authorities set up collectives of painters who used their skills to decorate boxes with scenes of Russian folk tales and Soviet heroes. Exquisite miniaturist painting reached its peak as Communism started to crumble. A resident of nearby Washington County traveled in the USSR in the 1990s and purchased more than thirty of these works from artists there. Russian lacquer miniaturists are once again free to paint religious works. These boxes, therefore, represent a particular moment in history, when tradition provided the wellspring for artists in a world upended by revolution.

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Detail: Andrei Vasilievich Arapov (Russian, b. 1956), and Natalia Nikolaevna Arapova (Russian, b.1961), The Golden Cockerel, 1993, Egg tempera and lacquer, 14 5/8 by 8 3/8 by 1/4 in. Private Collection

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