17 December 2017

The Grossmeister Creates

After three consecutive posts on Top eBay Chess Items by Price featuring live, high-priced auctions from Sotheby’s...

...I was starting to wonder if we had entered some brave new world of chess auctions. With the item pictured below, we revert to the sort of auction that has kept the series on 'Top eBay Chess Items' running for so long.

Titled 'Russian Lacquer Box by Zhiryakov Alexey "Grandmaster" Palekh Chess Circus', subtitled 'Wow what a box. Use pics as your guide. Fantastic. This is as good as they get. Really!', the box sold for around $975, 'Best offer accepted'.

Although the lighting on the box is uneven, chess pieces are visible in the lower center of the box and chess board patterns serve as background throughout. The description said,

This auction is for another one of the owners favorites from Palekh by Zhiryakov Alexey. Looks like a circus and chess game. Really the best artwork I've seen from Palekh. The drawing around the sides is more than exceptional. Also famous for his fairytale paintings. This one is a masterpiece and big: 8" by 4 5/8". The details are superb.

To understand this piece, I used the keywords in the title to find out more. First, Wikipedia's Russian lacquer art told me,

Russian lacquer art developed from the art of icon painting which came to an end with the collapse of Imperial Russia. The icon painters, who previously had been employed by supplying not only churches but people's homes, needed a way to make a living. Thus, the craft of making papier-mâché decorative boxes and panels developed, the items were lacquered and then hand painted by the artists, often with scenes from folk tales.

Wikipedia's Palekh miniature added,

Palekh miniature is a Russian folk handicraft of a miniature painting, which is done with tempera paints on varnished articles made of papier-mâché (small boxes, cigarette and powder cases, etc.) Palekh Russian lacquer art on papier-mâché first appeared in 1923 in the village of Palekh, located in the Palekhsky District (Ivanovo Oblast), and is based on a long local history of icon painting.

Finally, in Russian Lacquer Art Gallery, Sunbirds.com told me that Alexey Yevgenievich Zhiryakov:-

Was born 1974 in the village of Palekh, Ivanovo region, where he currently resides now. In 1996 he graduated from the Palekh Art School, where he studied under talented Palekh masters Buldakov and Peskov. At present Alexey Yevgenievich works at the Union of Palekh artists. His artworks are held in private collections all over the world.

The artwork shows a young man grinding out chess pieces onto a checkered road. Under his orange feet, the box is titled 'Grossmeister' [Grandmaster] and signed 'Palekh, 2006, A.E.Zhiryakov'.

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