Ruslan and Ludmila (Руслан и Людмила). Alexey Ivanovich Zaitsev (Алексей Иванович Зайцев), Palekh, mid-20th century.
Alexey Ivanovich was born in 1921. From 1937-1947 he studied at the Palekh Art School and was taught by legendary founders of Palekh, including V.I. Astakhov, V.T.Bondarenko, and I.P. Vakurov. Upon graduation, he was employed at the Palekh Art Workshops. He produced large-scale works at the boarding school in Ivanovo and took part in the restoration of frescoes at The Assumption Cathedral. His theatrical work included the staging for the ballet "The Land of Miracles" by I.I. Shvarts in the State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in 1968. Other works include "Kulikovo Field", "Mikula Selyaninovich", "Pugachiov", and "Ruslan and Ludmila". These, and many others, have been displayed at art exhibitions starting in 1974. His works can be found in museums all over Russia, among which are The State Russian Museum, Zagorsk State Historic and Art Museum-Park, The Central Museum of Armed Forces, State Museum of Palekh Art, and the State Museum of Ethnography of Peoples of Russia. The last two pictures show his works from the 1960's (not for sale as we don't own it).
To examine this box, is to step back into a time when work on lacquer boxes was demanding. Here, Ludmila is painted in the center of the box surrounded by vignettes from the Tale of Ruslan and Ludmila, a heroic medieval warrior from Alexander Pushkin's epic poem. At the wedding feast of Ruslan and Ludmila, Chernomor, an evil dwarf magician, kidnaps her. Ludmila's father blames Ruslan for the disaster and proposes to give her hand in marriage to the first man who finds her. Thus, Ruslan's rivals, Farlaf, Ratmir and Rogdai, all set out in pursuit. Ruslan meets the giant Slumbering Head, who, it turns out, is the brother of Chernomor. Ruslan subdues and defeats him, and most importantly, finds the magical sword under him, which enables Ruslan to defeat Chernomor.
The box is cream-colored papier-mache with egg tempera paints and lacquer. 5⅜"x1⅝". 1 only. Condition note: there is a small, hard to see ¼" chip at the 9 o'clock position at the edge (see last picture).