Mstera lacquer miniature

About the craft

The settlement of Mstera, one of the largest centers of traditional art crafts in Russia, is known, first of all, for the art of the Mstera lacquer miniature, which was formed on the basis of icon painting. Iconography originated here at the end of the 17th century. The Bogoyavlensky Monastery, the spiritual life center of Bogoyavlensky Soboda settlement (the future Mstera), contributed to the creation of the Mstera school of icon painting.

The Mstera masters were distinguished by their industriousness and virtuosity of painting. The documents of the late 17th – early 18th centuries have been preserved –  the so-called "exeats" which were given to the local artists, serfs of the Romodanov princes, to allow them producing icon-painting works in different cities of Russia and, above all, in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Thus, a new icon-painting center in Russia was gradually formed. The collections of icons of the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, and the Tretyakov Gallery give evidence of the Mstera masters’ wide popularity.