Palekh Miniature

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Palekh Miniature


a genre of Russian folk miniature painting. Palekh miniatures are done in tempera on lacquered papier-mâché articles, such as little boxes, cigarette cases, and powder compacts. They were first produced in 1923 by local icon craftsmen in the settlement of Palekh. In 1924 the Palekh Cooperative of Ancient Painting was founded. The organization was renamed the Palekh Association of Artists in 1932 and the Arts and Crafts Studios of the Art Fund of the USSR in 1953.

The Palekh miniaturists have adopted the lacquering techniques of the Fedoskino craftsmen. Their works depict scenes primarily from contemporary life, literature, fairy tales, byliny (epic folk songs), and songs. Palekh miniatures consist of bright local colors against a black background and are characterized by elegant, flowing lines and abundant gilding. The precisely drawn, flat figures often cover the entire surface of the lid and the sides of the lacquered article. Elements of icon painting are reflected in the poetic, fairy-tale quality of the figures; the decorative landscape and architecture (hillocks, groves); and the elongation of figures. The miniatures are usually framed by an intricate pattern done in gold leaf.

Outstanding Palekh miniaturists have included I. V. Marki-chev, I. P. Vakurov, A. V. Kotukhin, I. I. Golikov, I. M. Baka-nov, N. M. Parilov, D. N. Butorin, N. M. Zinov’ev, N. A. Pravdin, P. D. Bazhenov, and S. P. Bakhirev.


Bakushinskii, A. V. Iskusstvo Palekha. [Moscow-Leningrad] 1934.
Nekrasova, M. A. Iskusstvo Palekha. Moscow, 1966.
Zinov’ev, N. M. Iskusstvo Palekha. Leningrad, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.