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Home > Gallery > Palekh > Over $500

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Title: The Donkey's Skin
Artist: Smirnova Vera
Size: 20x12x4.5
Size (inches): 8x4.75x1.75
Price : $1100 SOLD!


This glorious piece of Russian artistry was created by the talented Vera Smirnova from the village of Palekh. There is a lavish luster here that is stunning. From decoration to depiction, delicious.
This scene comes directly from the adventurous tale known as, "Donkey's Skin" written by Charles Perrault. This tale tells about the Princess whose mother died. Before her death the queen said to her husband: "Promise me that if, when I am gone, you find a woman wiser and more beautiful than I, you will marry her and so provide an heir for throne". She was confident that it would be impossible to find such a woman, and the king would never remarry.
For time the king was inconsolable in his grief, both day and night. Some months later, however, on he agreed to marry again, but this was not an easy matter, for a long time he could not find a new wife with all the attractions he sought. Only his daughter had a charm and beauty which even the queen had not possessed. Thus only by marrying his daughter could he satisfy the promise he had made to his dying wife, and so he forthwith proposed marriage to her. This frightened and saddened the princess. To find the way out from this difficult situation the Princess asked her godmother to help her. The godmother advised the girl to charge her father with errands that are impossible to fulfill to delay marriage. But the king managed to fulfill all unfulfilled wishes of the Princess. Then the godmother advised the Princess to escape from the kingdom enveloping herself in the donkey's skin. She also gave her a magic wand. Whenever the Princess had this magic wand, she had the opportunity to wear any luxurious dress she wished. The Princess began her journey, and sooner or later came to a farm where they needed a poor wretch to wash the dishcloths and clean out the pig troughs. The Princess agreed to do this dirty work, and stayed in this farm.
One day the young prince stopped at this farm on his return from the hunt in order to rest and enjoy a cool drink. By chance he put his eye to the key hole of the Donkey Skin's (Princess's nickname at the farm) humble room. It was a feast-day and Donkey Skin had put on her dress of gold and diamonds which shone as brightly as the sun. The prince was breathless at her beauty, her youthfulness, and her modesty. From the first time he fell in love with the Princess who hid herself using the mask of a beggar. In the end of this thrilling tale the Prince marries the Princess, and the Princess's father endows the newly weds with his kingdom.
This is one of the more vivid compositions to come from the village of Palekh. The palette chosen by the artist is as alive as the characters appear. The artist's use of blue, aquamarine and green exudes fantasy of the fairy-tale. But, it is the use of gold leaf that is truly awe inspirational wonder. Multiple sheets of gold leaf are placed as a strategic background and then the artist is free to work their magic in, around and on top of it.
The box's exterior is covered with dark crimson lacquer, while its interior is traditionally red. The box's sides are decorated with gold foliage pattern.
The box is constructed from paper-mache. A hinge is fastened to the left of the composition; the box rests on four legs. The work is titled and signed with the artist's name at the bottom of the scene in gold paints.

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