Ornament (Орнамент). A beautifully stylized colorful floral box made around 1945-1947 in Mstera. Signed by the artist "Onasenko" (Онасенко) and "Made in the Soviet Union", an indicator that it was an export box, written in script in gold on the back. Onasenko was taught by Evgeny Yurin ( (1898-1983), a co-founder of the "Proletarian Art" Artel.
Papier mache, egg tempera, gold paints. Rectangular box in very good with some age-related wear. A nice addition to a lacquer box collection as older boxes are uncommon. 4¾" x 3⅜" x 1". 1 only, as shown.
Mstera, or Mstyora (Мстёра) miniatures are different from Palekh and Kholui miniatures, though, on first glance, they all can seem the same. Generally, Mstera painters chose a solid color background for their work, and seldom black, which is prefered in Palekh. The village of Mstera is located in the center of the Vladimir-Suzdal province on two rivers. The landscape of the village is reflected in the fields and foliage of many Mstera boxes. The first mention of Mstera goes back to 1609, whose artists excelled in embroidery, silver and copper metalwork and icons and frescoes. By the end of the 19th century, icon painting was first and foremost in Mstera (the name of the village derives from Masters). An artel of "Old Russian Painting" was organized in Mstera in 1923. However, since icons were no longer painted due to repression of the church by the government, the artists mastered painting on papier-mache boxes, which are more durable than wood. Genuine Mstera miniatures take a long time to make, as the work is piecemeal. The result is a work of art. Linseed oil, aka flaxseed oil, is used in the production of the boxes, which are lacquered and polished at least seven times. In 1932 the artel was transformed into the "Proletarian Art" factory. As of 2017, there were only about three dozen artists left in Mstera, indicating the serious threat of extinction for this traditional art.