Anatoliy Shirokov from Mstera is the well-known and established artist responsible for this colorful composition. The coloration captures the eye while the scenery holds each character in a uniquely sentimental way. The artist uses gold paint to accent the composition and make a viewer want to be attracted to it. Every detail is delicately manipulated for a great overall effect!
The subject of the composition is based on the popular Russian folk tale "Ivan Tsarevich and the Grey Wolf". The tale tells about the adventures of the Prince Ivan Tsarevich and his companion the Grey Wolf, a magician. After the wolf ate Ivan's horse, they became partners in crime. The wolf felt sorry for Ivan, and he helped him in his quest to get Elena to be his bride. The Gray Wolf even helps Ivan when his brothers murder him and throw his remains in a bucket, out to sea. When the wolf gets the waters of life and death, Ivan is able to be alive again and go back to avenge his brothers. It is only then that Elena is able to marry the man she truly loves. Who knows if this would have happened if the Gray Wolf would not have been hungry the day Ivan's horse crossed its path.
The multi-scened composition shows several events seemingly taking place simultaneously and within close proximity. This is in fact an icon painting device that disregards time and space in order to more fully tell the story. The scene depicted on the lid shows Ivan Tsarevich riding the Grey Wolf with Elena the Beautiful and holding the Fire Bird's cage in his hands.
The box is constructed from paper-mache. The edges of the lid and its sides are decorated with beautiful gold patterns. The exterior of the box is painted with black lacquer while the interior is completed with red lacquer. The lid is hinged to the top of the composition and the box rests on four legs. The work is signed with the artists name,dated, titled and village of Mstera.