This is an exquisite vintage hand-painted Russian lacquer box by Mstera School painter, Naumov Nikolai Antonovich.
It features a beautifully painted whimsical scene depicting the classic tale of "Tsarevitch Ivan and the Fire Bird".
Russian lacquer art gained great popularity after the fall of Imperial Russia and developed from the long-held tradition of icon-painting.
After the collapse, icon painters were no longer sought after to decorate churches and the palatial estates of Russia's elite.
Needing a way to make a living, the painters began manufacturing paper-mâché boxes which they would then decorate with classic Russian scenes and stories.
This beautiful box is made of solid paper-mâché and features a dramatic black-lacquer finish while the lid exhibits a colorful hand painted scene depicting "Tsarevitch Ivan and the Fire Bird".
You can see that the trinket box is an exceptional example of the styles that pervaded the works of Mstera craftsmen.
The village of Mstera is located on the banks of the Klyazama River and has a storied history of icon painting that dates from the 17th century.
Lacquer boxes decorated by Mstera craftsmen were a favorite of Russian emperor Nicholas II.
As you can see, the figure of Ivan is seen standing at the left side of the scene, holding the shimmering fire bird in his outstretched right hand and a bow and quiver of arrows slung over his left shoulder.
You can see the fire bird's gilt cage at the bottom left-hand corner of the scene.
Expertly applied, minuscule brushstrokes give Ivan's face and hands a wonderful dynamic and realistic look.
Both the bird and figure are rendered in extraordinary detail and feature a dazzling array of warm, shimmering colors.
Areas of Ivan's coat, the fire bird's tail, cage, and a scrolling border are accented with reflective gold paint which gives the box a truly opulent quality.
Another border of golden scrolls decorates the sides of the box's base.
You will find two hand applied Cyrillic inscriptions at the base of the scene in the same shiny shade of gold.
The first of these reads "жар-птица" (Fire Bird) and is followed by the artist's signature, "Наумов Л."
Finally, the box's interior features a lacquer finish in incredibly vibrant red.
You will find only a few extremely minor flea-bite scratches on the lid and base, though this highly collectible, whimsical trinket box remains in excellent vintage condition overall.
This piece is an outstanding example of the intriguing art of Russian lacquer painting and the Mstera School's distinct style.
Measurements: Box is 3 7/8" long, 13/16" wide and 1 3/4" tall Weight: 136.3 grams (4.8 oz)
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