Osip Fillipovich Vishnyakov was a freed serf of the Sheremetev Family Estate. He began producing lacquer ware products in the 1780-s along with his sons Piotr, Vasiliy, and Andrey in the village of Ostashkovo, located near Fedoskino outside of Moscow. They began manufacturing paper-mache trays, boxes, matchboxes, snuffboxes, tea boxes, baskets, eyeglass cases, Easter eggs, etc. They sold their wares in Moscow at the various fairs and markets. In 1825, Osip began his own business in Zhostovo and brought in a partner - Grigory Alexeev. This workshop flourished in the mid-1800s.
Ukhanova writes extensively about the Vishnyakov Family Workshops on pages 20-21 of RUSSIAN LACQUERS - 200 ANNIVERSARY OF THE LUKUTIN WORKSHOPS EXHIBIT CATALOG.
Continuing his family's tradition, Fillip Ivanovich Vishnyakov became famous for his works exhibited at the First Manufacturers Exhibit in Moscow in 1831. These included paper-mache trays (oval, with and without golden borders), paper-mache baskets with golden borders, trays for bottles, glasses, and jars. Fillip first began working in Zhostovo. Leaving his brother Taras behind, he moved to Moscow and established his workshop on Tsvetnoy Boulevard. Works by Osip's son, Vasiliy Osipovich Vishnyakov, were prevalent in the late 1800s-early 1900s.
The line of Vishnyakov owners and artists was as follows: Iosif (Osip) Filippovich Vishnyakov, Piotr Iosipovich Vishnyakov, Vasiliy Iosipovich Vishnyakov, Fillip Ivanovich Vishnyakov, Fillip Nikitich Vishnyakov, Taras Nikitich Vishnyakov, Osip Nikitich Vishnyakov, Vasiliy Osipovich Vishnyakov, Egor Vishnyakov, Ustin Vishnyakov, Nikita Vishnyakov, Alexey Vishnyakov, Ivan Vishnyakov.
Works by the Vishnyakovs were of the same level of quality as the Lukutin lacquers, and in many ways they reflected a more "democratic," down-to-earth style. They were intended for the wealthy peasants, middle and small merchants, and petty bourgeoisie. This in turn influenced the themes depicted on Vishnyakov items. Nevertheless, there were some pieces of extreme high quality. Osip Vishnyakov earned the right to place the Imperial Stamp on the back of his items, and won numerous awards at exhibits. In 1850 the Vishnyakov workshops sold first class tobacco snuffboxes at 1 ruble, second and third class snuff boxes at 50 kopecks (0.5 ruble)
The Vishnyakov Workshops were in fierce competition with the Lukutins at the time. The two frequently depicted similar scenes--winter and summer troikas, pastoral life scenes, and floral motifs. This was not only due to the fact that these scenes were popular, but also because the artists quite often drifted from one workshop to the other.
Because none of the pieces of this era were signed, it is very difficult to speculate which artists painted certain pieces, with 59 equally talented artists working in the workshop at the time. In Ukhanova's book LACQUER PAINTING IN RUSSIA of 18th and 19th CENTURIES on page 162 a lacquer tray artist by the name of Gushin is mentioned. Ukhanova mentions a contract between O.F. Vishnyakov and N.A. Gushin dated 1872. N.A. Gushin was a lacquering expert and his son was an artist who specifically painted paper-mache trays.
According to page 174 of L. Y. Suprun's LACQUER MINIATURE OF FEDOSKINO, 1987 "LEGPROMBITIZDAT" Moscow, "Fedoskino genre scenes, along with portraits and landscapes of the 1850-1900's, were unique in that they were all reproductions of famous paintings or illustrations... lithographs, engravings, luboks (popular color prints), etc. The owners and the artists used to collect and keep scenes to make copies of. There was such a wide variety of scenes to choose from that it was up to the artist to determine the optimal scene for his skill level." The Fedoskino artisans took their inspirations from works by such famous artists as P.M. Russel, I.P. Tputnev, K. Gambeln, V. Timm, and N.E. Sverchkov, many of which are now displayed at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
Ukhanova further explains the themes of their compositions on pages 16-17. Scenes of pastoral life became popular in Russia during the 1850's. This was a period of democratization of Russian culture. Folk scenes became popular, and lacquer items depicted peddlers, merchants, water carriers, mowers, and weavers. Black lacquer articles began to display red shirts, bright shawls, and costumes--quite contrary to the European fashions of the time. A miniature artist would spend an enormous amount of time depicting the details of an object: the dress, the beads, and the figure itself. A canvas-like look was given to the piece by using a metal powder under layer.
A metal powdered background with a yellow-toned lacquer to achieve a gold-like look is depicted on page 43 in L. Pirogova's 200 YEARS OF RUSSIAN LACQUERY, 1996, "Yantarny Skaz" Kaliningrad "ROSKNIGA," ISBN 5-7406-0017-0. On page 8 of MASTERPIECES OF RUSSIAN FOLK ART. LACQUERED MINIATURES. FEDOSKINO "INTERBOOK" Moscow. ISBN 5-7664-1048-4., lacquer expert N. Krestovskaya writes, "The Vishnyakov masters were especially renowned for their winter landscapes painted on a lacquered black surface dusted with metal powder. They skillfully painted shapely trees and bushes on the prominent surface of their products, with fanciful stumps with branches invariably placed in the foreground and adroitly adding the final touch to their compositions. Those landscapes formed the background of most Vishnyakov's troikas."
On page 11 of MASTERPIECES OF RUSSIAN FOLK ART. LACQUERED MINIATURES. FEDOSKINO "INTERBOOK" Moscow. ISBN 5-7664-1048-4., lacquer expert N. Krestovskaya writes "Paper lacquer factories produced larger pieces, such as photograph albums and shelves, blotting cases, tables and all sorts of trays, with the latter often used as pieces of interior decoration. Such "pictures" of landscape, bouquets of flowers, still-lifes and genre scenes were given a prominent place in, or graced the walls of provincial hotels, inns, shops and taverns. FEW PAPER-MACHE TRAYS HAVE SURVIVED. THEIR FRAGILITY PROMPTED CRAFTSMEN TO TURN TO A MORE LASTING MATERIAL. In the mid-19th century Vishnyakov's workshop launched the production of metal trays. Miniature artists were equally skilled at painting paper-mache and metal plates, biscuit dishes, and trays. Both productions involved many similar techniques, such as filling, lacquering and polishing. The production of painted metal trays, subsequently, branched into a separate industry - the famous Zhostovo trays. Confirmed by Ukhanova, few of these kinds of trays still exist, making these unique and extremely valuable pieces.