Matryoshka's Evolution From Cultural Icon to Art Form Creates Market For St. Petersburg GTH

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Throughout the 20th century, matryoshkas became ubiquitous as an icon of Russian culture and design. In the 21st century, they have rapidly become accepted as an international art form that has captivated admirers everywhere from the United States, to Great Britain, to China.

Matryoshka Art

Matryoshka Art

'We've opened our Manhattan store to better serve our growing American client base. There's a growing demand for real Russian hand-painted matryoshkas made using traditional methods.' - Natalia Orlova President

It's humbling to recognize that matryoshkas made their worldwide debut in Paris, France at the Exposition Universelle in the year 1900. This was perhaps the single most culturally significant event at the turn of the century, with almost 50 million attendants. Many of the inventions, paintings, designs, and structures unveiled at the event would become universally known and celebrated. These displays included the Eiffel Tower, the Ferris wheel, the Diesel engine, the first talking films, the telegraphone, the escalator, and, of course, matryoshkas.

Historically, the Russian Empire experienced an incredible cultural golden age from around 1830 through the early 1900's. This period produced some of the greatest writers, poets, artists, and philosophers to have ever lived. It was, therefore, no surprise that Russia performed splendidly at the Exposition Universelle. In fact, Gustave Eiffel, the civil engineer responsible for the Eiffel tower, led a special committee that awarded a gold medal to Lavr Proskuryakov for the construction of the Yenisei Bridge in Krasnoyark, Siberia. This bridge ultimately connected the East and West Siberian Railways and was a stunning industrial achievement for the Russian Empire. Furthermore, Russia claimed the title of "Grand Prix De Champagne", the coveted title of best international sparkling wine. Amazingly, it was amidst this explosion of culture and industry that the matryoshka received a bronze medal as a toy for children and captured the imagination of the world.

Today, while the legacy of the matryoshka is holding strong, it has outgrown its wooden enclosure and has become an icon used in just about every form of art. You can now buy a $9500 Chanel matryoshka bag, Swarovski matryoshka jewelry, and even explore a mind-blowing matryoshka park featuring a 100-foot-high doll in Manzhouli, China. Even more telling is the fashion world's fascination with matryoshkas. Perhaps this can be explained by the root of the word itself, meaning literally "little matron", a form of the Russian female name "Matryona". This type of doll represents a youthfully optimistic and delightfully charming Russian country girl not too unlike the type of girl epitomized as the all-American girl or even the girl next door. Perhaps this similarity is what has created so many matryoshka admirers and, counter-intuitively, has sparked a renewed interest in the original wooden design of these dolls.

One company that's particularly excited about this return to the matryoshka's roots is the Saint Petersburg Global Trade House. A business that was founded in Brooklyn, NY in 1994 to serve a large Russian-American population, they have recently expanded into the heart of Manhattan on 5th Ave. Natalia Orlova, the company's president, believes that the time is right to bring authentic, hand-painted, and professionally made Russian products to the American market. She explains, "We've opened our Manhattan store to better serve our growing American client base. There's a growing demand for real Russian hand-painted matryoshkas made using traditional methods. Our customers admire the quality and handiwork of these dolls compared to the plastic ones that are usually found outside of Russia." The new store will be celebrating its grand opening on Thursday September 26th, 2013. It's sure to be a memorable event for those with an interest in Russian art or culture.

New store location:
261 5th Avenue btw (28th &29th)
New York NY, 10016

About Saint Petersburg Global Trade House

Founded in 1994, Saint Petersburg Global Trade House takes its roots in Brooklyn, NY – the heart of NYC’s Russian community. Saint Petersburg GTH takes great pride in the fact that it is the largest seller of Russian gifts, books, music, and movies outside Russia. The company offers products through its free colorful printed catalog, as well as operating brick-and-mortar stores in Brooklyn. The catalog is published quarterly in editions of 50,000 copies and can be requested by calling the toll-free number at 1-800-531-1037.

For additional information, visit

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Max Bolotov
since: 02/2013
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