Charming matryoshki. Sketch and execution by the marvelous talent, Irina Troitskaya.
The Russian matryoshka (матрёшка or матрешка) nesting doll dates from 1890 and is said to have been inspired by souvenir dolls from Japan. But the concept of nested objects was already familiar in Russia, having been applied to carved wooden apples and Easter eggs; the first Fabergé egg, manufactured in 1885, had a nesting of egg, yolk, hen and chick.
The story goes that Sergei Maliutin (a painter from a folk crafts workshop in the Abramtsevo estate of famed Russian industrialist Savva Mamontov) was inspired by a set of Japanese wooden dolls representing Shichi-fuku-jin, the Seven Gods of Fortune. Maliutin drew a sketch of a Russian version of the toy. It was carved by Vasiliy Zvezdochkin and painted by Sergei Maliutin at the Children’s Education Workshop/Salon in Abramtsevo. It consisted of eight dolls: the outermost was a girl holding a rooster, six inner dolls were girls, the fifth doll was a boy, the innermost, a baby:
In 1900, M.A. Mamontova, the wife of Savva Mamontov, presented the dolls at the World Exhibition in Paris; the toy earned a bronze medal. Soon, matryoshki were being produced throughout Russia.
Apparently, the idea took hold.