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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Icon: Clumsy Bears and Chocolate

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Show a Russian a picture of a mama bear and three baby bears cavorting on a log, and ask them to name the work and artist. Chances are they will tell you it's called "Mishka Kosolapy" ("The Splayfooted Bear Cub") and was painted by Ivan Shishkin. Then they will tell you it's a chocolate candy. At this point you will be confused, but that's okay: They're confused, too.

It's a confusing story. The work in question involves four artists, one painting, two candy wrappers and three final images. The 1889 painting, which is called -- despite popular opinion to the contrary -- "Morning in a Pine Forest," is attributed to Ivan Shishkin. But Shishkin discussed his first idea of a landscape with another artist, Konstantin Savitsky, who suggested the addition of gamboling bear cubs. Shishkin did piles of sketches of bears, logs, and forests, as did Savitsky. In the end, Shishkin painted the lush, nearly photographically perfect landscape, and Savitsky painted in the four bears. The two artists seem to have been pleased with themselves and each other; both signed the painting. But when Pavel Tretyakov bought the painting for his collection (the basis of the Tretyakov Gallery), he obliterated Savitsky's signature, stating that "from conception to completion, everything indicates the painterly manner and creative method belonging to Shishkin."

The painting became a national favorite. In 1925, when the Soviet government had expropriated and nationalized all the private art collections in the country, and the bourgeois concept of trademarks was but a memory, the Red October factory decided to make a candy based on the popular image. The artist Manuil Andreyev modified the Shishkin-Savitsky image for use on a candy wrapper. The candy was called the Splayfooted Bear Cub and became one of the most popular factory brands. Later, the factory asked yet another artist, Leonid Chelnokov, to redo and modernize the image. Since Chelnokov had been friends with Andreyev, the Chelnokov-Andreyev candy wrapper bears were a kind of mirror image of the original Shishkin-Savitsky painting bears.

The image is appealing, the name is cute, the candy is delicious, and when you eat it, you have a sub-conscious urge to visit the Tretyakov Gallery.