Download PDF:
Keywords: Christmas traditions, wassails tradition, mummer tradition, urban folklore, folklore and painting.
For citation:

Sorokina S.P. Representation of Christmas Rituals in Leonid Solomatkin’s Paintings as a Folkloristic and Ethnographic Source. Studia Litterarum, 2019, vol. 4, no 1, pp. 330–347. (In Russ.)

DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2019-4-1-330-347

Author: Svetlana P. Sorokina
Information about the author:

Svetlana P. Sorokina, PhD in Philology, Senior Researcher, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, Moscow 121069, Russia.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Received: December 16, 2018
Published: March 25, 2019
Issue: 2019 Vol. 4, №1
Department: Folklore Studies
Pages: 330-347
DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2019-4-1-330-347
UDK: 398
BBK: 82.3


When studying folklore, knowledge of its contextual framework and social functions is of particular importance. For example, the study of the tradition of Russian nineteenth-century realist painting is especially relevant for the understanding of those folklore phenomena where the performing principle played a prominent role. The article examines the paintings of the artist L.I. Solomatkin that represented Christmas rituals (wassailing and mummer tradition) in the urban environment. Analysis of the paintings that represented wassails tradition suggests that in the urban environment of the 1870s, this tradition appears as largely formalized and mediated by the “framework” of commodity-money relations. Former ritual that engaged and brought together its participants gave place to the formalized routine that implied monetary exchange. However, this tradition remained integral part of the urban Christmas festivities, not only for the singers, but also for the listeners, since for the latter the arrival of the singers was a sign of social prestige. The painting that represents mummer tradition, instead, is a proof that in the urban environment of the second half of the 19 th century, this rite preserved its inherent “scary-fun” atmosphere.


1 Asaf’ev B.[V.] Russkaya zhivopis’ [Russian painting]. Leningrad; Moscow, Iskusstvo Publ., 1966. 243 p. (In Russ.)

2 Burcev A.E. Leonid Ivanovich Solomatkin i ego hudozhestvennoe tvorchestvo. Iz sobraniya A.E. Burceva [Leonid Ivanovich Solomatkin and his art. From the collection of A.E. Burtsev]. Burcev A.E. Moi zhurnal dlya nemnogih [My journal for the narrow circle], issue 10. St. Petersburg, Tipografiia E. Veiermana i Ko Publ., 1914, pp. 2–15. (In Russ.)

3 Zhabreva A.E. Pis’mennye i izobrazitel’nye istochniki po istorii russkogo kostyuma XI–XVII vekov [Written and pictorial materials on the history of Russian costume, 11 th – 16 th centuries]. Moscow, Peterburgskoe vostokovedenie, BAN Publ., 2016. 479 p. (In Russ.)

4 Ivanova T.G. Vasilii Maksimovich Maksimov — khudozhnik i sobiratel’ fol’klorno- ehtnograficheskih materialov [Vasily Maksimovich Maksimov — artist and collector of folklore and ethnographic materials]. Tradicionnaya kul’tura, 2018, vol. 19, no 2, pp. 19–27. (In Russ.)

5 Ivleva L.[M.] Ryazhen’e v russkoi tradicionnoi kul’ture [Christian mummer tradition in Russian traditional culture]. St. Petersburg, Rossiiskii In-t istorii iskusstv Publ., 1994. 233 p. (In Russ.)

6 [Kurochkin N.S.] “Zar’ Maksimilian” [“King Maximilian”]. Iskra, 1863, no 6, pp. 83–85. (In Russ.)

7 Ledakov A.Z. Pamyati Solomatkina [In memory of Solomatkin]. Sankt-Peterburgskie vedomosti, 1883, august 6, no 211. (In Russ.)

8 Nekrylova A.F. Znachenie Peterburga i soldatskoi sredy v stanovlenii russkoi narodnoi dramy [The role of St. Petersburg and the soldiers’ lifestyle in the development of the Russian folk drama]. Russkii Sever: Arealy i kul’turnye tradicii [Russian North: Areas and cultural traditions]. St. Petersburg, Nauka Publ., 1992, pp. 195–206. (In Russ.)

9 Nesterova E.V. Leonid Ivanovich Solomatkin. Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo [Leonid Solomatkin. Life and work]. St. Petersburg, Aleteya Publ., 1998. 181 p. (In Russ.)

10 Nesterova E.V. Leonid Ivanovich Solomatkin [Leonid Solomatkin]. St. Petersburg, 2006. 200 p. (In Russ.)

11 Plotnikov V.I. Fol’klor i russkoe izobrazitel’noe iskusstvo vtoroi poloviny XIX veka [Folklore and Russian art of the second half of the 19 th century]. Leningrad, Hudozhnik RSFSR Publ., 1987. 282 p. (In Russ.)

12 Pryzhov I.[G.] Nishchie na Svyatoi Rusi [Beggars in the Holy Russia]. Moscow, tip. M.I. Smirnovoi Publ., 1862. 83 p. (In Russ.)

13 Roginskaya F.S. Tovarishchestvo peredvizhnyh hudozhestvennyh vystavok [Association of the moving art exhibitions]. Moscow, Iskusstvo Publ., 1989. 430 p. (In Russ.)

14 Savickaya T.A. Leonid Ivanovich Solomatkin (1837–1883) [Leonid Solomatkin (1837– 1883)]. Moscow, Izobrazitel’noe iskusstvo Publ., 1971. 99 p. (In Russ.) 

15 Sarab’yanov D.V. Russkaya zhivopis’ XIX veka sredi evropeiskih shkol [Russian painting of the 19 th century among European schools]. Moscow, Sovetski hudozhnik Publ., 1980. 261 p. (In Russ.)

16 Sorokina S.P. Petrushka na kartinah V.G. Perova i K.E. Makovskogo [Petrushka in the pictures by V.G. Perova and K.E. Makovsky]. Tradicionnaya kul’tura, 2015, no 4, pp. 147–154. (In Russ.)

17 Sorokina S.P. Petrushka v russkoi zhivopisi vtoroi poloviny XIX veka: fol’klornoe yavlenie v “tekste” izobrazitel’nogo iskusstva [Petrushka in the Russian painting of the second half of the 19 th century: folklore phenomenon in the “text” of fine art]. Tekst, kontekst, intertekst. Sbornik nauchnyh statei. XIV Vinogradovskie chteniya. T. 4: Russkaya literatura [Text, context, intertext. Proceedings of the 14 th Vinogradov conference. Vol. 4: Russian Literature]. Moscow, VO MGPU; VividArt Publ., 2016, pp. 214–230. (In Russ.)

18 Tarasov L.[M.] Leonid Ivanovich Solomatkin [Leonid Solomatkin]. Moscow, Iskusstvo Publ., 1968. 179 p. (In Russ.)

19 Toporov V.N. Proza budnei i poehziya prazdnika (“Peterburgskie sharmanshchiki” Grigorovicha) [The prose of the everyday and the poetry of the holiday (“St. Petersburg organists” by Grigorovich)]. Toporov V.N. Peterburgskii tekst [Petersburg text]. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 2009, pp. 152–207. (In Russ.)