The Tale of Tsar Saltan by Alexander Pushkin. (Full title: The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of his son, the glorious and mighty knight prince Gvidon Saltanovich, and of the fair Swan-princess). The climactic scene in the tale in which The Swan Princess is reunited with Prince Gvidon and reveals her human form by shedding her wings. In the distance are the merchant's ships, who helped to save the Prince when he was cast into the sea as a child. Also the artist has painted the great city that the enchanted Princess created for the Prince. In excellent condition. Egg tempera, gold, lacquer, hinged papier-mache. Elaborate freehand border. Approximately 5¾" x 3¾" x 1". 1 only.
"The Tale of Tsar Saltan", a poem by Alexander Pushkin written in 1831, opens with Tsar Saltan overhearing three sisters making future plans. The youngest is chosen by Tsar Saltan to be his wife, and the other two sisters he employs as royal cook and royal weaver. They are envious, of course, especially when the Tsaritsa gives birth to a son, Prince Gvidon. While the Tsar is away fighting battles, the sisters scheme to have her and her child sealed up in a barrel and cast into the sea. The boy grows older while in the barrel, which eventually washes up on the shore of a remote island, Buyan. Disembarking from the barrel, Prince Gvidon goes hunting and ends up saving an enchanted swan from a kite (a type of hawk). The swan is an enchanted princess and the kite is an evil magician. The swan forms a city for Prince Gvidon to rule, but he is homesick, and the swan turns him into a gnat (in some versions he is a bumblebee). In this guise, he returns to visit Tsar Saltan's court, where he bites his aunt's eye and flees. Back home, the enchanted swan shows Gvidon a magical squirrel, which lives off of golden nutshells and emerald kernels. Gvidon builds the squirrel a crystal house. All these exploits come to the attention of Tsar Saltan, who is intrigued. But the Tsaritsa's sisters dissuade Saltan and tell him of the marvel of the 33 bogatyrs (knights) and their master, Chernomor, who rises from the sea. These bogatyrs are the enchanted swan's brothers. The swan transforms Gvidon into a fly, who follows them all the way back to Tsar Saltan's court, where he stings the eye of his other aunt. The aunts scheme one last time by describing to Tsar Saltan a miraculous princess with a star above her head, but this princess is revealed as the Swan Princess. Gvidon and the Princess marry, Tsar Saltan visits them, and is delighted and overjoyed in the end.
The box is the work of Lyudmila Yurievna Burdakova (Людмила Юрьевна Бурдакова). She was born in 1952 and studied in the Palekh Art School from 1970-1975. Since 1975 she worked in the Palekh art-production workshops. She is the wife of another Palekh artist Alexander Aleksandrovich Burdakov.
Learn more about Palekh here.