July 21, 1981, marked the opening in Moscow of the All-Russia Museum of
Decorative-Applied and Folk Arts. Its purpose is to further encourage the
study, propaganda and development of these arts. The decorative-applied and
folk arts of the Russia and beyond its confines.
The Museum's collections comprise about 40.000 pieces - unique specimens of
wood carving, painting on wood, weaving, pottery, embroidery, lace, painted
lacquer work from Palekh, Fedoskino, Mstiora and Kholui, and many exhibits
representing other folk crafts. There are also articles produced by the
modern artcraft industry; these are based on the traditional - and often
improved - forms and techniques of folk art.
The rich funds of the Museum enable it to give visitors a full idea of the
development of the decorative-applied and folk arts from the late seventeenth
century to our own day.
Wooden casket decorated
whis a Palekh
The traditional folk crafts are very much alive in our own day. A major part
of the Museum's funds is made up of the works contributed by Soviet artists
specializing in the decorative-applied arts, and also by folk craftsmen. For
many of the nationalities living in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,
woodworking is a traditional craft, tracing its origins to the hoary past.
The woodwork section presents specimens from the best-known centres of this
ancient craft, notable for the diverse methods and techniques employed, for
superb workmanship and careful preservation of the distinctive features of
each art-craft centre.
The famous Khokhloma style (Gorky Region) is represented by the works of
Stepan Veselov, Olga Lushina and Nikolai Ivanov. The nobly austere forms,
inherited from the folk tableware, are enhanced by the characteristic golden
background (the golden effect is achieved without gold actually being used)
and superbly executed free brushwork.
The Polkh-Maidan centre (Gorky Region), which emerged in the twenties, is
renowned for its matrioshka wooden dolls, covered jars, whistles and
mushroom-banks painted with bold designs in bright aniline colours. The
Museum's collection of Bogorodskoye wooden toys and decorative figurines is
large and diverse. Miniature animal and human figures and genre scenes,
carved in the soft wood of the alder, aspen or lime tree, are left unpainted.
They owe their power of expression to the laconic, generalized outlines and
clever details. Pieces by Ivan Stulov, Nikolai Maximov and other well-known
carvers delight viewers with their benign irony and humour.
There is a fine display of birch-bark articles, worked and decorated in
different techniques, from the northern parts of the Soviet Union
(Arkhangelsk Region, the Urals and Siberia): exquisite openwork and
wickerwork, applique, stamped and painted pieces.
Box and casket
The Museum's ample collection of Russian laces is quite fascinating. There is
lace from such world-famous centres as Vologda, Yelets (Lipetsk Region) and
Mikhailov (Riazan Region). Masterpieces by the Russian lace-makers repeatedly
won honours at international fairs.
The collection of printed woollen headkerchiefs and shawls from Pavlov-Posad
near Moscow, which began to be manufactured there in 1812, has a niche all
Embroidery has long been the treasure-store of the earliest Russian imagery.
The Museum has in its possession embroideries by craftswomen from many parts
of the Russian Federation. One of the star exhibits is a nineteenth century
valance - a magnificent specimen of North Russian embroidery. The embroidery
of the peoples of the Volga Region is noted for its temperate, austere colour
scheme. Tarusa embroidery (Kaluga Region) with its profusion of ornamental
motifs is done over a mesh, which is solidly coated with coloured thread. The
Mstiora style (Vladimir Region) employs the traditional rose pattern in white
or coloured satin-stitch; the large blooms are set off by miniature flowers
Box in wickerwork
The pottery section displays vessels from Skopin (Riazan Region), notable for
their distinctive shape; the handiwork of Balkarian craftswoman (Daghestan
Autonomous Republic); and toys from various centres in the Russian
The Dymkovo toys (Kirov Region) have extremely simple, unencumbered forms and
generalized silhouettes; they are painted in bright ornamental patterns
against a white background. The venerable tradition of Dymkovo comes to life
in the figures of red-cheeked matrons and nurses, gallant horsemen and funny
rams, in the scenes of tea-drinking or public merry-making at fairs, crafted
by Evdokia Koshkina, Ekaterina Koss-Denshina, Galina Baranova, Anna
Kuzminykh, and others. The display of pottery toys is complemented by those
from Filimonovo (Tula Region) with their somewhat elongated shapes, painted
in brilliant magenta, green, yellow and blue stripes, and by the glazed toys
from Abashevo (Pensa Region), which have rather massive, archaized forms.
figurine of a billy-goat
The section of painted lacquer-work displays prize articles from all the
famous centres of this craft - Fedoskino (Moscow Region), Palekh (Ivanovo
Region), Mstiora (Vladimir Region), Kholui (Ivanovo Region). The Fedoskino
craftsmen carry on the tradition of miniature painting on papier-mache, which
dates back to the late eighteenth century. Their caskets, dresser boxes,
etc., are painted in oils, in a realistic style reminiscent of classical
easel painting. For a high decorative effect, they use gold leaf,
mother-of-pearl, or metallic powder.
Faience casket with
Gzhel painted decoration1977
Palekh articles are the most famous of all. In the Soviet years the Palekh
craftsmen succeeded in evolving a highly original painting style, making
expert use of the decorative black background, gracefully silhouetted,
expressive figures, sophisticated colour schemes and exquisite ornamental
patterns. They favour narrative, mostly fairy-tale subjects. Palekh
miniatures are represented in the Museum by the works of Ivan Golikov, Ivan
Vakurov and Ivan Markichev - the fathers of the Palekh style, as well as
pieces contributed by contemporary artists.
Quite impressive for the number of items is the collection of lacquered trays
from Zhostovo (Moscow Region). The inimitable and technically perfect
painting style which emerged at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries, has been successfully developed in our own day by Boris Grafov,
Nikolai Mazhayev, Nina Goncharova, Mikhail Savelyev, and other artists. In
addition to the folk crafts, the Museum displays the work of major Soviet
artists who specialize in the decorative-applied arts.
The section of artistic glassware of the Soviet period includes pieces by the
best-known artists from Moscow and Leningrad, as well as those from the
largest glassworks of the Russian Federation, over the past decade. Most
interesting is the porcelain section with its widerange display of nineteenth
century masterpieces and articles produced in the Soviet years. A very
special collection is that of the so-called propaganda porcelain - a
brilliant example of the propaganda of revolutionary ideas through the medium
of applied art. As they carefully uphold the finest Russian traditions,
porcelain makers successfully introduce new styles and subjects.
Porselain dessert set
Porcelain articles from Gzhel (Moscow Region), whose origins are traceable to
the sixteenth century, are deservedly popular. The form and decorative
painting of the tableware and sculptured pieces contributed by Tatyana
Dunashova, Ludmila Azarova and Zinaida Okulova retain the features and basic
patterns characteristic of the famous Gzhel majolica produced in the second
half of the eighteenth century.
The collections of the Museum are shown to the public in its permanent
display and also at exhibitions held in Russia and in other countries. Many
foreign museums send over their own collections to be shown at exhibitions in
the halls of this Moscow Museum.
The museum is open daily:
from 10.00 a.m. till 6 p.m.
but Friday and the last Thursday of the Month.
Address of museum: 3, Delegatskaya St.
Tel.: 921-0139, 923-1741, 923-7725