Koschei the Deathless [Marya Morevna]. Кощей Бессмертный [Марья Моревна]. A striking 7-piece doll from Russia from 1993. 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 and each is richly rewarding. 7¾" down to 1¼". Fully hand painted and in almost fine condition. Signed and dated by the artist on the first doll. 1 only.
Once upon a time, the Tsar was getting up in years and began planning how to hand over his kingdom. He instructed the young Prince Ivan that his sisters were properly married and subsequently taken care of. Time passed quickly, as it always does, and Ivan, himself Tsar, was enjoying a stroll in a garden with his three sisters when out of the blue a sinister black cloud appeared generating a wicked storm. And wonder of wonders, a falcon flew into the garden and in a wink stood transformed as a handsome prince. He proposed to Ivan's sister, Maria, to which Ivan and his sister accepted, and they were married. Shortly afterward, the falcon carried Maria back to his kingdom. If all this weren't enough, a similar event was repeated twice more, though with an eagle and a raven. Ivan found himself alone and set off to find his now lost sisters. During his travels, he came upon a field of slain soldiers, newly defeated by the army of the beautiful Queen Maria Morevna. Long story short, they were married and lived together for a time in happiness. The Queen did however find it necessary now and then to fight a battle defending her realm. Leaving Ivan in charge of the kingdom, she sternly warned him not to enter the chamber in the castle with the tallest turret. Of course, curiosity got the best of him and he did. That's were he discovered the giant sorcerer - Koschei the Deathless. Ivan rashly released him and Koschei flew out of the castle whereupon he abducted Maria Morevna. After a long and perilous journey to reclaim her and his three sisters, Ivan eventually was successful in restoring order to the kingdom.
On the last piece, the artist shows where the power and soul of Koschei lives: hidden in a needle, inside an egg, in a duck, in a rabbit, then locked in an iron chest, which is buried under a green oak on an island. Though we offer here a mere synopsis, the tale in itself is quite complex and tells a terrific story.
Condition note: some minor imperfections due to the quality of the materials available to artists at that time plus some ageing, though nothing terrible.