The krasnushka (“pretty”) icon was an inexpensive, mass-produced work of art. Distinguished by their predominant tones of brown-red or red-ochre, krasnushki enjoyed great demand in Russia. They soon spread across the whole country, even finding their way to such other Orthodox lands as Bulgaria and Wallachia in the Balkans. They were also taken by pilgrims to the Holy Land. Krasnushki could be found in virtually every home and church in Russia.

Such icons were often painted bearing in mind that most of the image would be covered by a setting made of cheap metal or foil. This explains why the face was painted in more detail than the other parts of the icon; only the faces and hands would have been visible through the gaps in the setting. The rest of the figures and the architectural and landscape details were sometimes only roughly outlined in black on a red-brown background.

In the second half of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, workshops specialising in the mass production of cheap, popular icons sprung up all over Russia. One of the leading centers of krasnushki production was the townstead of Mstiora near the city of Vladimir in central Russia.

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