PALEKH (Paleh)(pronounced PA-leh)
Palekh miniature is a Russian folk handicraft of tempera painting on lacquered items made of papier-mâché.
Palekh seems to look so old-Russian that no one would guess that it is only 100 years old,
although the traditions followed by artists of Palekh are as old as Christianity.
Previously, Palekh was a center of icon painting mentioned in historical documents from the 17th century.
The local style had an influence from Moscow, Novgorod, Stroganov and Yaroslavl schools.
Icon making is a multistep process performed by different craftsmen for each operation:
grounding the board, outlining the contour of the future icon,
painting the composition, faces, hands and
other bare parts of the body, clothing, writing texts, varnishing.
In the 20th century, since icons were no longer in demand,
artists Ivan Golikov and Alexander Glazunov
were impressed by a black papier-mâché box from Fedoskino.
They decided to combine techniques of Palekh icon-painting and
technology of the Fedoskino non-religious lacquer work.
It was a success.
Themes for Palekh miniature are taken from everyday life,
classical literature, fairy tales, Russian heroic epics and folk songs.
A unique style of Palekh miniature can be recognized by refined and smooth painting,
mainly against black background, with rich golden shading, clear silhouettes of flattened figures.
Ornamental non-realistic look of landscape and architecture, gracefully elongated proportions of figures,
and the palette based on combination of three main colors –
red, yellow and green --
have origin in traditions of ancient Russian icon painting.