Early talent

KOVARSKAIA, Evgeniia (artist)

Pro Lisu i Kolobok. Russkaia skazka

[The Fox and the Little Brown Bun. Russian Fairy tale]

Publication: Russkoe knigoizdatelstvo, Povolozky, Paris, [1923].

KOVARSKAIA, Evgeniia (artist), Pro Lisu i Kolobok. Russkaia skazka

Lovely small fragile book for children drawn by a child. In fine condition in the publisher’s wrappers.

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Our Notes & References

Charming Russian émigré children’s book, with hand-made block print cover and illustrated by the 10-y. old ‘Zheniia’ Kovarskaia. The famous children’s tale tells the story of a runaway cake that refuses to be eaten.

The major publisher of Russian emigré works, philanthropist and Freemason Jacques Povolozky (pseud. for Iakov Efimovich Benderskii, 1881-1945) founded his publishing house in Paris in 1910 with the aim to bring Russian and French cultures closer together. It had branches in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kyiv and Odesa until 1914 producing translations of French literature to Russian-speaking readers, and in Paris selling translations of Russian works and luxury illustrated books. Povolozky actively collaborated with Russian avant-garde artists Mikhail Larionov and Natalia Goncharova, and in 1920 he opened a gallery for meetings and exhibitions of the Dadaists, printed and distributed their texts and posters; in 1924 he also opened a library at his bookstore.

This classic Russian fairy tale is here illustrated by the talented girl Zhenia Kovarskaia, who left Soviet Russia with her parents, doctor Ilia Kovarskii and his wife Lidiia, after the October Revolution. Besides ‘Pro lisu i kolobok’, she also illustrated several other books of Russian fairy tales from the “Detskaia biblioteka” [“Children’s Library”] series published by Povolozky in the 1920s “for the Russian emigrés’ children to not forget their native language”. Curiously, the conjugation of “kolobok” in the title of this fairy tale is grammatically incorrect and should be spelled as “kolobka”.

The present copy is kept in the publisher’s attractive wrappers patterned with ‘blueberry’ polka dots in the pochoir technique. The Van Abbemuseum collection (Netherlands) locates copies with 11 different pattern styles of wrappers for this edition.

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Physical Description

Octavo (19 x 14 cm). 8 pp. incl. title.


Publisher’s illustrated wrappers, title label on upper board.


Minimally rubbed at extremities; small staining from oxidised metal staple, light marginal staining, otherwise very fresh.

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