Nikolai Ivanovich Baburin (born 1930), the son and grandson of icon painters, is one of the foremost masters of the traditional craft of miniature painting on lacquer ware, centered in the old village of Kholui. He devoted all his life to preserve the features of the Kholui iconic tradition. Exhibited since 1946. Member of the RSFSR Artists’ Union since 1964, Merited Artist of the RSFSR since 1976, winner of the Repin State Prize (1970). His major works are “The Lay of Igor’s Host” (1958), “The Tale of the Psalter Player” (1961), “Dobrynia Nikitich” (1966), “The Tale Danila the Craftsman” (1978), “The Snowmaiden” (1971), “The Tale of Kozhemyaka” (1970), “The Tale of Tsar Berendei” (1976), “Morozko’s Gifts” (1976), “City Siege by Pechenegs” (1984), “A Fair in Old Kholui” (1979).
In 1947 he finished the Kholui Art School where he studied under the guidance of K.V. Kosterin, S.A. Mokin, and P.N. Kiselev. Since 1947 worked at the Kholui lacquer miniature factory. In the fifties of the foregone century miniature painting in Kholui was oriented on the same principles that regulated the trend of all Soviet art. Baburin followed these principles in his work, and found the themes for his boxes in Russian classical literature and Russian folklore. Art critics have invariably noted his love of nature, as well as his masterly presentation. The sixties and seventies were marked by heightened public interest in early Russian art. Baburin began to look for compositional devices linked to the aesthetics of the lubok broadsheets. In the eighties he turned to the compositional scheme of hagiographical icons, on which the large central figure of a saint is framed by miniature scenes from his or her life. He works to improve his skill in executing diminutive pieces – miniatures in the true sense of the word.
The Museum of Folk Art under the Research Institute of Art Industries (Moscow) has a collection of Nikolai Baburin’s works; some of them are held by the All-Russia Museum of Decorative and Folk Art (also in Moscow). However, the most representative collection of the master’s miniatures will be found in his native Kholui, in the Museum of the Art of Palekh and Kholui.