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Home > Gallery > Fedoskino > Over $500

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Title: Merchant's Feast
Artist: Kriger Alexander
Size: 26x19x10
Size (inches): 10.25x7.5x4
Price : $1650 SOLD!


Few words exist that can effectively describe this remarkable box by Fedoskino artist Alexander Kriger. Radiating with the brilliance of mother-of-pearl and wonderful oil paints, this composition is a reproduction of an oil-on-canvas painting by Russian artist Konstantin Makovskiy (1839-1915) from 1883. A popular but always exquisite composition, this can be a highlight of any collection!
The most notable figure of Russian academism (of the age of Realism), Makovskiy painted situational scenes from the daily life of ancient Russia. Along with the other painters involved in the "Wanderers" Movement, he painted common people without any social commentary. He was also well known for his myriad of portraits and images in which he artistically embodied characteristic representations of "beautiful life." Though not always in favor with critics, his popularity extended all the way to the top of Russia's nobility, as he was Tsar Alexander III's favorite artist. His painting "Children, Hiding from Thunderstorms" is currently displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery. His younger brother, Vladimir Makovskiy, was also an established genre artist. The Tretyakov Gallery also houses one of his works, "Collapse of the Bank." Konstantin's painting "The Boyar's Wedding" is part of an extensive collection of Russian works held in the Hillwood Museum and Gardens in Washington, D.C., which was founded by Marjorie Merriweather Post.
This large (93" x 154") painting depicts one of the most important social and political events of old Russia, a wedding uniting two families of the powerful boyar class that dominated Muscovite politics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The artist has singled out that moment during the wedding feast when the guests toast the bridal couple with the traditional chant of "gor'ko, gor'ko," meaning "bitter, bitter," a reference to the wine, which has supposedly turned bitter. The newlywed couple must kiss to make the wine sweet again (this tradition continues even today). The toast occurs towards the end of the feast when a roasted swan is brought in, the last dish presented before the couple retires.
As noted in I. Ukhanova's book RUSSIAN LACQUERS - 200 ANNIVERSARY OF THE LUKUTIN WORKSHOPS , the first appearances of "The Boyar's Wedding" on lacquer miniature were from the Lukutin Workshops, fairly quickly after the original painting was complete. During the period just before the turn of the century, the Lukutine artists tried to depict historical and romantic scenes from Russia's past. Examples of these works included "The Demon and Tamara," "The Silver Duke," "Boyarina by the Fence," and "The Boyar's Wedding."
Artist Kriger has wonderfully entwined the realism of Makovskiy with the magical beauty of Fedoskino miniature. The background of this composition is painted with the smooth tones of traditional Fedoskino oil paints. She has then mixed brightly colored paints with crushed mother-of-pearl for much of the attire of these merrymaking nobles. The textures of the scene have been magnificently transferred to this miniature. The wispy veil of the bride has been depicted with transparent paints, and hundreds of individual brushstrokes make up the fur of the nobles' coats in the foreground. Shading and color variation, although not readily noticeable, add tremendous realism to the composition.
Adding even more dimension and splendor to this piece, the artist has then incorporated multiple sections of inlaid mother-of-pearl, most notably in the right window in the background. There is also mother-of-pearl inlay on the left side, for a portion of the swan and the shimmering tray, and sections in the center used for the four noblewomens' hats. All of the inlay work is extremely well done. Topping it off with generous amounts of gold paint, this scene gleams with the grandeur of the old Russian aristocracy. The artist has taken advantage of the original positioning of each of the characters facing the newlyweds, and has painted each face with extreme life-like detail and expression.
The artist has signed and dated the painting at the bottom of the box.
Truly a master work!

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