It is being said that the history of Easter eggs dates back to the early days of Christianity, when Mary Magdalene gave the Roman emperor Tuberous an egg as an Easter present. In many countries, an egg was the symbol of eternal life. That is why Mary chose such a present. Surprised by Mary's story of Christ's resurrection, the emperor said: "Resurrection is as impossible as this egg's turning red". At that moment, the egg he was holding turned red to prove Mary's words. Since those days, Russian Orthodox people exchange eggs on Easter day.
The time passed, and the desire to make Easter presents more long-lasting brought an egg-producing industry into life. Wooden eggs were turned and then painted with Bible scenes by skillful masters. The artists of Moscow armory produced pieces of art that remained up to our days as examples of fine egg painting. In the times of Peter the Great new materials appeared in Russia. So, the new turn of the egg history started. Thus, appeared porcelain and papier-mache eggs that were also painted in the traditional way or simply with ornaments and scrollwork. The famous masters of Russian lacquer from the village of Mstera did not miss this chance to show their skill. Some of them painted porcelain eggs for the Russian Royal family, and some decorated papier-mache eggs produced in their village. Traditionally, the price paid for egg painting was very high, for it was considered a kind of Easter present to the artist. The eggs produced and painted for the Royal family were distributed between the crowned heads and members of their families to be handed out to visitors on Easter day. The tradition required an exchange of exclamations stating the triumph of Christ over the death, a triple kiss and an exchange of presents, mostly eggs. The last Russian emperor used to order Easter presents at the art shop of Faberge, a famous jeweler. Created by the sophisticated master, Faberge eggs are subject to admiration up to the modern days. Though prohibited in Soviet times, Easter was still celebrated in most Russian families. With the return of democracy, a new wave of egg painting art started. Keeping to the old traditions, modern Petersburg artists paint wooden eggs with Bible scenes or scrollwork. They also depict churches and convents. They practice the technique of Russian lacquer that dates back to the XIX century, but the variety of depictions is really surprising. Icon-painting motives executed in strict canons, copies of Western and Russian classical painters, architectural depictions and ornamental decoration - all the periods of Russian egg-painting art is reflected in the works of painters from Saint-Petersburg Art School.