The Illustrations of Ivan Bilibin. A beautifully painted 15-piece doll from Russia from the mid-1990's. This superb set was done during the "Golden Age" of Russian dolls, when the doors and windows of glasnost and perestroika began to open, though long before commercial languor began setting in. All of the paintings were done by hand. 9" down to teeny tiny, 15 pieces in all. Fully hand painted and in excellent condition. Signed and dated by the artist on the first doll.
Ivan Bilibin (1876-1942) is a favorite of connoisseurs of Russian art and illustration. Inspired by Slavic folklore, Bilibin was also a stage designer who participated in the Mir Iskusstva movement and contributed as well to the Ballets Russes (for example, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Golden Cockerel"). Bilibin studied under Ilya Repin in St. Petersburg and 1902-1904 Bilibin traveled to the Russian North, where he gained artistic inspiration from their traditional wooden architecture. He truly gained fame when his illustrations of Russian fairy tales were published, on which these exquisite nesting dolls are based.
The first doll features a richly painted scene from The Tale of the Golden Cockerel. It shows the interior of the palace of Tsar Dadon, whereupon he is presented with the golden bird. The details are astonishing! The second doll is an illustration of the Princess in the prison tower from tale "The White Duck". The third doll depicts Tsar Dadon meeting the Shemakha Queen (The Golden Cockere) and the fourth shows Vasilisa and the White Rider from the tale Vasilisa the Beautiful. The fifth shows the medieval troops from the Bylina "Volga) and the sixth an illustration from The Tale of Tsar Saltan. The seventh depicts a medieval Russian knight, the eight is also from Tsar Saltan. The ninth and tenth are from The Tale of the Frog Princess. The twelfth is a Vologda girl in holiday dress circa 1905. The thirteenth is the white swan from the Tale of Tsar Saltan and the next to the last a silhouette of Baba Yaga flying through the air in her mortar and pestle. The very last is the legendary woman/bird Siren, also known as the Harpy.