Russian Folk Handicrafts

Golden Khokhloma


Northen Folk Art - Mezen

Lipetskiye Uzory

Russian Matryoshkas

Sergiev Posadskaya Matryoshka

Semionovskaya Matryoshka

Polkhovsky-Maidan Matryoshka
Vyatskaya Matryoshka

Russian Easter Eggs

Faberge Jewellery

House of Faberge

List of Faberge Eggs

Imperial Eggs

Faberge Works
Famous Collections of Faberge

Russian Linen

Russian Shawls

Russian Orenburg Shawls

Pavlovo Posad Shawls

Russian Cashmere Shawls

Lacquer Painting





Russian Icon Painting

Origin of Icons
Early Russian Icons
Golden Age of Russian Icon
Understanding Icons
Icon Painting Schools in Russia
Russian Icon in the Modern Age
Russian Icon Painters
Famous Russian Icons
Icon Painting Nowadays
Icon Restoration

Porcelain & Ceramics

Lomonosov Porcelain
Lomonosov Porcelain Factory Under the Tsars
Lomonosov Porcelain Factory After the Revolution
Lomonosov Porcelain Factory Today


Samovars & Trays

Traditional Samovars

Tula Samovar

Zhostovo Trays

Nizhny Tagil Trays

Russian Watches








Russian Cuisine

Russian Traditional Food

Russian Drinks
Russian Vodka
Samogon - Home Made Vodka

Hand-Made Lace

Vologda Lace

Yeletskie Kruzheva

Russian Glassware
Dyatkovo Crystal Plant
Gus-Khrustalny Crystal Factory

Russian Traditional Toys

Toys of Old Russia
Russian Toys Today
Dymkovskaya Toy

Bogorodskaya Toy

Made in Russia
Made in Russia

contact us:
15/113 generala simonyaka street
198261 st petersburg
phone: 8 812 9136128


The virtuoso craftsman Boris Tikhonravov cuts a lyrical figure among the Kholui craftsmen. Together with Baburin, he was one of the most gifted graduates of the local art school. His early works, such as Dubrousky and Prince Igor's Campaign demonstrated his extraordinary craftsmanship especially in landscape painting, which he employed to convey the feelings and emotions of his characters. His musical nature sought an outlet in painting, and he seemed to be "singing" popular songs, such as A Urals Rowan Tree, The Bells Are Ringing, Ask Me For a Date, Katyusha, Oh, Ye Rye and Flax in Bloom in his miniatures. Tikhonravov, who died early but managed to leave behind wonderful works of art, devoted one of his last works to Sergei Yesenin, a true Russian poet with whom the artist shared a common world outlook, a similar temperament and a lyrical gift.

Nikolai Starikov, whose life and work was also, regrettably, cut short very early, immortalised himself in his caskets, such as A Stone Cutter, Chestnut-Grey and At the Will of the Pike, which are decorated with images of rare beauty.

Ivakin P. Box. 1965Pavel Ivakin, who never had any professional training but mastered the secrets of lacquer miniature by looking at what his colleagues did, occupied a special place among the Kholui craftsmen. He lived a short life, dying at 53, and went down into the history of the craft as a naive artist with his own vision of folklore motifs. Superb craftsmanship and extraordinary, expressive images set his works apart, such as Sadko, Chestnut-Grey, The Flying Ship, Yevseika's Adventure, Dancing and The Golden Gate.

Alexei Kosterin also produced some original and noteworthy works. He had a highly individual style, taking great pains and much time to create inimitable pieces. His themes varied from dynamic battle scenes in his Red Horsemen, On the Attack and A Troika to peaceful Ilya of Murom, The Monster and The Fire Bird. His master piece, The Legend of Borka, shows a public prayer by the Nizhny Novgorod troops led by Prince Dmitry Pozharsky in a pine-tree forest a verst outside Kholui before their march onto Moscow. It was there that the monastery, the Borkovsko-Nikolay-evskaya Pustyn, was founded on the Prince's behest in the 17th century.

Lacquer miniatures are distinguished in multifarious Russian decorative, applied and folk art by their uniqueness and beauty, and the gift and craftsmanship of their creators. Handmade, labour-consuming and intricate, lacquer miniatures have much in common with easel painting. Nevertheless, these are pieces of applied art because painting here is utilitarian and inseparable with the object.

A lacquer miniature is an intimate type of art, the minute details of which may be missed in exhibition halls. Miniatures can only be understood and duly appreciated after scrutiny at close quarters. Kholui miniatures are easily understood because they are realistic, decorative and focus on the portrayal of the personality. The character may be monumental and stern as in Oleg's Prophesy, or gracious as in Snow Maiden, recklessly mutinous as in Stepan Razin or formidable as in Svyatogor the Warrior.

Gold is used only when justified, for example, to paint gold cupolas of churches and cathedrals, helmets, shirts of chain mail, brocade vestments, the sun, the moon and the stars in the night sky. This is another feature distinguishing Kholui from other centres of lacquer miniatures. The Kholui style continues to evolve today through the painters' relentless creative endeavours.

Kholui miniatures developed fairly intensively in the 1970s and the 1980s. New works were made, replenishing the reserves of the local museum, the Ivanovo and Pless art museums, the Moscow Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts, the Folk Art Museum with its largest collection of Kholui lacquers and the department of the Kulikovo Field Historical Museum.

More works were made for the market, and the number of painters also grew. Every year graduates of the local art school joined the team, worked side by side with experienced masters, improved their professional skills and gained experience. The range of local products expanded: there were already over 700 models, of which painters produced small series of copies for the market. Objects of new shapes and purposes appeared, and red, green and cherry-coloured pieces were added to the traditional black ones.

Kholui lacquers made it to the international market in 1961. The first commission came from Great Britain to be followed by those from the US, Germany, France, Belgium and Italy. That fact and subsequent thirty-year-long exports promoted the development of the craft, strengthening the economy and raising the international prestige of Russian lacquers, including those of Kholui.

During those years painters began to make decorative lacquer panels. They were far larger than miniatures painted on caskets and other objects and ranged in size from 50cm to 350cm. Vladimir Belov was one of the first to paint big panels. His Fire-Bird, Troika, Oleg's Prophesy and Tsarevna the Frog looked fresh, fascinating and attractive. Painters of an older generation, such as Baburin, Denisov, Kiselev and Fomin, took up the trend and, proceeding from the traditions of temple murals of the Kharlamov and Zarin schools, produced inspired works. They found it gratifying to work on panels, which offered vast opportunities to convey ideas. Younger painters, who represented the generation of Kholui masters of the 1960s through the 1970s, also did big panels, including The Tale of Tsar Saltan and Sadko by Alexander Morozov, The Little Shepherd and Snow Maiden and Mizghir by Pyotr Mityashin, Vassily Buslayev by Victor Yolkin, The Tale of a Sleeping Tsarevna and Snow Maiden by Sergei Dmitriev, Winter Troikas by Sergei Devyatkin and Sadko by Vladimir Sedov. These talented, hard-working and persevering painters are well-known by their works displayed at art shows and museum exhibitions.

Miniaturists are often called "fairy-tale" painters due to their devotion to Russian folklore themes. Indeed, tales, epic poems and legends are closer than any other genre to the imagery and pictorial potentialities of miniature painting. Kholui painters show special fondness towards Pushkin's tales, Yershov's Little Hunchbacked Horse, Bazhov's Urals Tales, Afanasiev's tales and other folk tales. Pieces with Russian folklore themes enchant by their genuine sincerity and purity, extol beauty and evoke the sublime in deeds and aspirations. Free from perfidy, evil, violence and grief, they give a graphic portrayal of folk wisdom, triumphant justice and truth. Kholui miniatures are imbued with optimism, which makes them especially popular, and are designed to give joy and to please. Their execution is, however, a complicated, intense and time-consuming process, justifiably referred to by painters as the "pangs of creation."

In 1984, Kholui craftsmen's association marked its 50th birth anniversary with a retrospective show at the local museum. The over 500 best miniature pieces produced over half a century were put on display and impressed everyone, professional painters included. Among the exhibits were works by dozens of painters, starting with the founders of the craft and ending with commencing painters who brought their first works to public view. Some pieces dated to the 1930s and the 1940s, others were brand new. The exhibition awoke tremendous interest, ran throughout August and was then displayed at Moscow's Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Arts in October.

Gordeyev R. Icon. 2000The works on display astounded by the diversity of their themes, which included fairy tale, historical, battle and even satirical scenes, as well as portraits, still lifes, ornaments and landscapes. The viewers' attention was invariably attracted by Victor Yolkin's Metro and Fireman, Alexander Smirnov's Bath House and Savage Landlord, Kosterin's Legend of Borka and Baburin's Old Kholui Fair, Snow Maiden, Pechenegs Besieging a Russian Town and The Tale of Tsar Berendei. Special mention should be made of Kiselev's "micro-miniature" caskets, Belov's nine-sided casket Russian Warriors and panels Stepan Razin and Boyan, as well as Fomin's caskets Decembrists, Dawn over Russia and Who Is Well Off in Russia.

Another notable theme was the architectural landscapes of old Russian cities and invaluable historical and cultural monuments, including Novgorod, Outside Novgorod, Pskov-Krom, several versions of Uglich, Old Yaroslavl, In Yaroslavl, Rostov the Great, several versions of Suzdal, Old Suzdal, Kideksha, The Church of the Intercession on the Nerl, Golden Gate, The Vladimir-Suzdal Museum Preserve, The Kremlin. St. Basil's, The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Optina Pustyn, Alexan-drovskaya Sloboda, The Trinity-Sergius Monastery, several versions of Kholui, Kizhi and The Nikola-Shatromsky Monastery.

The exhibition graphically illustrated the different stages of the development of Kholui lacquers and the potentialities of local painters and confirmed the craft's well-earned prestige in modern Russian culture.

In its fifties, the Kholui craft is going through difficult times due to the general situation in Russia. The major contradiction between art and production, which has long caused differences among painters, was settled when a group of painters formed an independent Artists' Union and craft workshops under it in Kholui. The old work- shops went public and reorganized into a joint-stock company. Two distinct workshops are currently operational in Kholui, developing the art of miniature painting along the lines of a single artistic idea. New works are being produced, using traditional themes and images; icon painting is being revived, albeit timidly so far due to the loss of tradition. That tradition is being studied anew and reinterpreted by contemporary painters. New times dictate new approaches to icon painting, nourished by a great love for Russia's past and present, indepth knowledge of the sources, the inspiration and talent of those who have undertaken the arduous and noble job of reviving the traditions of old Russian painting. Kholui craftsmen are once again going through a period of dissatisfaction with their present accomplishments. Their creative quests aim to breathe life into icon painting and to produce miniatures on biblical and Gospel themes. These eternal themes of world art, which have for many years been banished from Russian lacquers, are being given a new lease on life at a confluence of past traditions and novel aspirations of local craftsmen.


Click Here to Buy Gifts&Souvenirs Derectly from Russia

Russia from All the Sides:

Welcom to the World of Faberge

Treasures of the World - Faberge Eggs

Welcom to the World of Faberge

Russia Art. Mezen Painting and Palekh

Russian Cuisine (Recipes, exchange board, English Translations for russian Herbs)

Russian Orthodox Church (History, Icon Painting, Church Music, Major Holidays)

Russian Folk Art

Best of Russia (History, Culture, Life, Royal Family, Major Cities)

Russian Collections (Icons, Folk Arts, Modern Art)

All About Vodka

Official Site of the Company Producing Stolichnaya Vodka

home faberge eggs watches icons Lace Khokhloma linen porcelain matryoshka toys samovars food