This box has been painted by established Mstera artist Nikolay Molodkin. Nikolay's mastery is at an all time high. This scene is a work of great skill and technical prowess. His artistry finds itself in Mstera's upper echelon, and it seems like he is only improving. There is no telling how spectacular his following works will be, but judging by this they are guaranteed to be special!
The box depicts several scenes from the Pushkin's fairy-tale "Ruslan and Ludmila". The method of combining several scenes helps the artist to tell a complex story in one image. The hero of the tale, Ruslan, is in the center, with Ludmila on a war horse. Ruslan is standing outside the walls of the wizard Chernomor's impressive palace. Inside, his kidnapped fiancee, Ludmila, is held prisoner. Chernomor himself is flying over the two figures and his very long beard is fluttering around him. The wizard hastens to see who is making the horn call outside his gates. In the right upper cornerwe can see another scene from the tale. It shows the epic battle between Ruslan and the Giant Head. Ruslan must defeat the Head in order to retrieve the blade. With that blade Ruslan must cut the magic out from within the beard of Chernomor. In the lower left hand portion of the composition, there is the scene that shows the wise and equally mysterious Finn. The Finn will grant Ruslan the knowledge he needs in order to defeat the magic of Chernomor.
The artist fills the scene with lots of action and details. The palette is quite diverse and he uses yellows, oranges, reds and cream tones to define the characters and the architecture, while dark greens and blues are used for the depiction of a surrounding landscape. It makes one focus directly on the action, which is shown sometimes without regard for perspectives or proportions; this hearkens back to the icon painting style. The lines are all precisely drawn and the figures well decorated. Gold is used to enhance the detailing, as is aluminum in subtle amounts. The composition is filled with a life force that the artist creates with expert transitioning, brushwork, and overall flow of the action in the scene.
The box is made of paper-mache. Black lacquer is used to paint the exterior of the piece while red lacquer completes the interior of the box. The lid is hinged from the top of the composition. The box is rests on four legs. Gold scrollwork frames the composition with an intricately managed design. A more intricate ornamentation pattern wraps around the sides of the box with aluminum accents within the floral pattern. It is signed with the artist's name, village and year (2016).