Matryoshka of Vyatka is the most northern
Russian matryoshka. It portrays blue eyed girl from the North
with a gentle bashful smile. The girl's face is so charming
that it attracts everyone. The painted dolls of Vyatka became
especially original in the 1960s, when the matryoshkas were
painted not only by aniline dyes but inlaid with straw. Then
the straw is covered by oil lacquer. Nolinskaya souvenir factory
and Kirovskaya souvenir factory are the parts of Vyatka amalgamation.
Matryoshka 'Sudarushka' produced by Nolinskaya factory is very
Possibly, a painted matryoshka
will remain one of the most vivid relics of the late 1980s
and early 1990s in Russia. The third period of matryoshka
art development starts from this time. This period is called
a period of author's matryoshkas. This was revolutionary time
fraught with serious changes.The economic, social and cultural
changes that began in Russia, the famous Gorbachev perestroika
caused the great interest in Russian culture all over the
world. Russian matryoshka had a Renaissance as well. Like
100 years ago independent workshops and cooperatives where
matryoshkas were made were opened. Craftsmen got the opportunity
to sell their matryoshkas. Russian art market experienced
unbelievable upsurge. Matryoshkas prevailed among the pieces
of art on the market. Professional artists were among those
who started painting matryoshkas: painters, pencil artists,
masters of folk art handicrafts.
The most popular matryoshka was author's matryoshka
which was different from traditionalhk styles. It was made
by an individual artist, whether professional or amateur one.
The typical matryoshka which had been worked out during the
Soviet time was replaced by matryoshkas whose decoration could
be described as 'individual anarchy'.The matryoshka makers
brought back variety of themes in matryoshka painting which
existed in Sergiev Posad period.
Different matryoshkas portrayed again Russian
peasant girls which resembled the first Russian matryoshka
made by Maliutin. The traditional type of the matryoshkas
of Sergiev Posad which usually hold something in their hands
was complemented by a variety of women, young girls, old women
with baskets full of fruits, samovars, bast-baskets, all sorts
of dippers and pitchers.Artistic method of contemporary matryoshka
makers was more decorative in compa rison with the early samples
of the matryoshkas of Sergiev Posad. The objects held by matryoshkas
turned into special still-lives. The image of the matryoshka
with a big family came back as well.
Matryoshka owner which holds some kind of fowl,
for example, a goose or a piglet, belonged to this type as
well. The family theme is linked with motherhood theme. The
first craftsmen who painted matryoshkas as mothers holding
their babies were the craftsmen of Krutets. The craftsmer
of Sergiev Posad of the early period didn'taIn have this painting
tradition but during the period of author's matryoshka this
tradition was developed a lot. Very interesting samples appeared
in Moscow, Sergiev Posad and Khotkovo. Motherhood theme is
linked with the idea of peace, comfort and protection; lullaby
sung before sleep, wonderful fairy tales. Mary the Virgin
who was always greatly venerated in Russian is an ideal for
each mother image. Gradually, some artists portrayed Mary
the Virgin with infant Jesus instead of some concrete image
of mother. It is connected with the revival of the religious
feeling and Orthodoxy.
At the beginning of the 20th century many icon
painters of Sergiev Posad started to decorate matryoshkas.They
could not break certain icon painting canons. That's why the
first matryoshka painters who had icon painting experience
were happy to portray their contemporaries. The artists could
observe them everyday on the busy streets of Sergiev Posad.
The methods and themes of secular painting could not be used
in icons, so they develop their creative potential in decoration
of wooden dolls.
The matryoshkas of the early period portray
different inhabitants of pre-Revolutionary Russia. If at the
beginning of the 20th century there was a trend away from
icon painting traditions towards realistic portrayal, then
in 1990s matryoshka craftsmen came closer to icon style again.
Gradually, some of them started to decorate Easter eggs and
then to paint icons. The former icon painters' descendants
are getting back to the traditional activity of their ancestors.
For examples 'Yaroslavna' ofprA. Kartashov: Yaroslavna, the
wife of the legendary Russian prince Igor Sviatoslavovich
is portrayed holding the icon of Mary the Virgin of Vladimir
in her hands. This matryoshka is painted in a very noble way.
As a rule in order to portray Mary the Virgin, Jesus Christ,
apostles and saints, artists used icon painting techniques.
They consider matryoshka as some kind of a surface on which
they draw an icon, not as a doll to be dressed in clothes
of a saint. The characteristic feature of the contemporary
author's matryoshka is its picturesqueness.
Often the constructive principle of matryoshka
doll is sacrificed for the general decorative pattern. The
whole painting resembles a variegated fabric and looks very
festive. The world around us seen nostalgically by the painter
becomes a major theme. To many people living in Russia their
country turned to be something new, unusual and at some point
mysterious. Icon paintings and Christmas holidays - Easter
and Christmas, rituals of christening and church wedding became
popular and legitimate again.
In the true folk environment all customs and
holidays have never been excluded from the spiritual and cultural
traditions which were preserved from generation to generation.
At the beginning of 1990s this part of life became public.
Some painters tried to reflect these trends in their decorated
matryoshkas. In the portrayal of their birthplace they appreciate
the new value of it in the historic context. For example,
'Khotkovo' the by V. Bulygina and 'Abramtsevo Nights' by O.
Kiseliova belong to this type. It is important to note that
not only the views of their native villages reflect their
view of the whole world but they see themselves as part of
this world. For example, matryoshka 'My wedding' by V. Bulygina,
portraying the beautiful ritual of church wedding, reflects
some features of the author as well.
The inquisitive eye of the painter strives
to penetrate in the past, the present and the future. Due
to the rising national identity, a modern painter tries to
understand customs and traditions of ancestors. If the masters
of the early period found some themes for the decoration of
their matryoshkas in the surrounded world, the author's matryoshka
is distinguished by a certain 'documentary' aspect, supported
by old photographs and documents.The artist is looking attentively
at the meaningful faces and poses of his ancestors and tries
to understand their style of life. For example, the artists
M. Masaltseva and N. Suslova work in this way. The theme of
Easter, one of the most revered by Russians Orthodox holidays
is conveyed with love and affection by N. Suslova in her matryoshka
'Easter and How We Were Looking Forward to It'. We see how
the artist passionately conveys through the matryoshka decoration
the emotional evaluation of the events.
The history of this country from Prince Igor's
campaign to the contemporary political struggle is represented
by matryoshkas. One of the most popular themes at that time
was the tragedy of the Tsar's family. The historical evidence
and historians' publications shocked the society by cynicism
and cruelty of what had been committed. The last days of Nicholas
II and his family were featured in films, books, and plays.
The matryoshkas portrayed the members of the family as well.
We experience very difficult time: we used
to live in the country of certain economic structure and quite
imperceptibly we are living in the state professing completely
different economic principles. It is quite natural that all
these radical changes are accompanied with the breaking of
the ideals, life's cataclysms breaking in people's consciousness.
At the same time, a lot of things in our life resemble an
old classic vaudeville which is a bit absurd. Sometimes our
life resembles a noisy motley carnival in Venice where the
seriousness and fun, tragedy and comedy, banality and mystery
Matryoshka, a doll which looks quite simple
but full of unexpected sense turned out to be the best embodiment
of the present time spirit. Matryoshka as a form of folk art
possesses tremendous potential to convey the deepest sense
of the events developed in space and time. The carnival folk
element which is seen in the matryoshka decoration allows
not only to rise life's eternal issues, but to realise contemporary
life in its every day and busy form.
For example, these is the whole range of Russian
tsars, Russian and foreign state and public officials. The
matryoshkas portraying modern politicians have a grotesque
style - old tradition appeared long time ago. For example,
a very well known matryoshka- caricature was painted by V.
A. Serov. S. I. Mamontov, V. A. Serov himself, musicians P.
A. Spiro, N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov and other participants of
the Mamontovs theatrical performances were represented in
Almost all political upheavals of the late
1980s and the early 1990s are represented in the funny caricatures.
The political matryoshka has a very clear 'subordination'.
M. S. Gorbachev's legendary political career during perestroika
brought him popularity in many European and American states.
'Gorby' became the most favourite matryoshka of that time.
Stylistically it resembled 'Hetman' a lot. 'Hetman' was a
famous matryoshka of the early 20th century from Sergiev Posad.
None of the politicians have escaped this fate. A special
order was made in Russia to portray the future US president
and his closest aids in the framework of Bill Clinton's inauguration.
Long time ago at the beginning of the 20th
century some painters tried to use matryoshka as a surface
to paint some pictures on it. It could be either fairy tale
theme or a landscape. These attempts made in the past helped
to develop a new matryoshka type. Its wooden form is used
to reproduce this or that theme. Two traditions in matryoshka
painting are linked with each other: the topicality of Sergiev
Posad painting joins the decorative manner of Nizhny Novgorod.
Matryoshka's apron is a traditional place to feature the major
element in the matryoshkas of Nizhny Novgorod. This particular
detail is borrowed by modern toy makers.
Various types of matryoshkas are distinguished
by the way their aprons are painted. For example, some matryoshkas
have architectural monuments on their aprons. Such matryoshka
is a wonderful souvenir which reminds this or that historical
place. Matryoshkas representing Trinity - St. Sergius Monastery,
architectural monuments of the old Russian towns of Vladimir,
Suzdal, Novgorod and other are very popular. The trend of
using decorative elements which are typical for Russian folk
culture traditional centres becomes more and more popular
in the decoration of modern matryoshka. Very often one can
see a matryoshka painted a la gzel, zhostovo, khokhloma, palekh.
Modern matryoshka absorbs in a certain ways
the treasures of folk Russian art traditions. Author's matryoshkas
are very expressive and energetic. It is quite natural in
the late 1980s and early 1990s that many Russian professional
artists and craftsman earlier deprived by certain barriers
started to paint matryoshkas. This type of art revealed their
energy which had been preserved for along time. The matryoshkas
painting imbibes all bright, fresh elements connected with
the renewal and the renaissance of Russian society of the
It is possible to say that this time
has given the world the new art-Russian author's painted matryoshka
which is a part of many Russian and Western art collections.We
can see dignity and humility, power and hope for the future,
deep sorrow and boundless hilarity in the Russian painted
matryoshka... Time goes on and the new generations are impressed
by the talent and imagination of the creators of folk and
author's matryoshkas, they derive vital force for the quest
and achievments from this source. Matryoshka is a huge artistic
event which requires comprehension. It is both sculpture and
painting, image and soul of Russia.