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An informative guide to Russian Decorative Arts and their historical provenances.

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  • ALTHOUGH ARCHAEOLOGICAL REMAINS date the bone carving

    tradition of the northern Russian as far back as medieval times, its

    popularity only gathered widespread momentum in the seventeenth

    century. Walrus ivory was in abundant supply in the Archangelsk region

    bordering the White Sea. The areas most important hub for hunters and

    traders exchanging goods intended for southern Russia and the regions

    towards Europe was Kholmogory, whose reputation for home grown ivory

    spread to Moscow. As a result, sanctions were imposed in 1649 limiting

    the trade of ivory, and skilled carvers were invited to work at court.1

    The carving of walrus and mammoth ivory gained further recognition

    under Peter the Great when he showed a personal interest in developing it

    as a hobby during his visit to Archangelsk in 1693.2 With the flow of

    craftsmen between major city centres at home and abroad, stylistic and

    technical influences travelled broadly. While local hunting lore and lubki

    provided rich subject matter from which to draw, print sources from

    further afield, such as Piscators Bible, Symbols and Emblems, or the

    German engravings that inspired the eighteenth-century silver snuff

    boxes, also served as design inspiration for genre scenes on ivory artefacts.3

    3

    Opposite and below. 2. An ivory portrait ofPaul I, after medal based on a print prototype,c.17801780. 6.5 x 6.5cm with frame.PRIVATE COLLECTION

    Above. 1. A gaming chip depicting a mammoth-type creature. Northern Russia, second halfnineteenth century. 3.5 x 3cm.PRIVATE COLLECTION

    Chapter 10

    BONE

    CH 10. BONE_Layout 1 17/12/2012 10:58 Page 2

  • ALTHOUGH ARCHAEOLOGICAL REMAINS date the bone carving

    tradition of the northern Russian as far back as medieval times, its

    popularity only gathered widespread momentum in the seventeenth

    century. Walrus ivory was in abundant supply in the Archangelsk region

    bordering the White Sea. The areas most important hub for hunters and

    traders exchanging goods intended for southern Russia and the regions

    towards Europe was Kholmogory, whose reputation for home grown ivory

    spread to Moscow. As a result, sanctions were imposed in 1649 limiting

    the trade of ivory, and skilled carvers were invited to work at court.1

    The carving of walrus and mammoth ivory gained further recognition

    under Peter the Great when he showed a personal interest in developing it

    as a hobby during his visit to Archangelsk in 1693.2 With the flow of

    craftsmen between major city centres at home and abroad, stylistic and

    technical influences travelled broadly. While local hunting lore and lubki

    provided rich subject matter from which to draw, print sources from

    further afield, such as Piscators Bible, Symbols and Emblems, or the

    German engravings that inspired the eighteenth-century silver snuff

    boxes, also served as design inspiration for genre scenes on ivory artefacts.3

    3

    Opposite and below. 2. An ivory portrait ofPaul I, after medal based on a print prototype,c.17801780. 6.5 x 6.5cm with frame.PRIVATE COLLECTION

    Above. 1. A gaming chip depicting a mammoth-type creature. Northern Russia, second halfnineteenth century. 3.5 x 3cm.PRIVATE COLLECTION

    Chapter 10

    BONE

    CH 10. BONE_Layout 1 17/12/2012 10:58 Page 2

  • THE EVOLUTION OF ENAMELWORK from eleventh-century Kievan

    Rus to twentieth-century revolutionary Moscow drew on Byzantine roots

    and then wove Western European influences into its ornamental

    vocabulary. It reflected Russias own position at the crossroads of trade

    routes between the East and West. Indeed, enamelwork was a manifestation

    of the prominence of cities that were later wiped out by political instability.

    Most of the principal enamel techniques represented on the Russian auction

    market today have their roots in examples discovered during archaeological

    excavations. Tenth- to thirteenth-century finift-type enamel evolved

    stylistically from Byzantium, which inspired both Russian and Western

    European interpretations of the earlier enamel crafts.

    Enamelling is a method of adhering a coloured glass compound to a

    metal base. When this is achieved by incising the surface of the metal and

    filling the vacant channels with enamel, it is generally referred to as

    champlev. The effect is flush across the piece as the enamel decoration is

    3

    Above. 1. Salts by various makers, c.1890,showing the champlev technique in designsinspired by embroidered textile. The tea glassholder dating from the same period is a typicalEastern European form and often appears atauction missing its original glass liner. Height oftea glass holder 14cm; diameter of largest salt ??BONHAMS

    Opposite. 3. This oklad, produced in Moscow,18991908, is enriched with elaborate filigree work.13.5 x 11cm.BONHAMS/ANDREY CHERVICHENKO

    ENAMELChapter 2

    CH 2. ENAMEL _Layout 1 17/12/2012 10:38 Page 2

  • THE EVOLUTION OF ENAMELWORK from eleventh-century Kievan

    Rus to twentieth-century revolutionary Moscow drew on Byzantine roots

    and then wove Western European influences into its ornamental

    vocabulary. It reflected Russias own position at the crossroads of trade

    routes between the East and West. Indeed, enamelwork was a manifestation

    of the prominence of cities that were later wiped out by political instability.

    Most of the principal enamel techniques represented on the Russian auction

    market today have their roots in examples discovered during archaeological

    excavations. Tenth- to thirteenth-century finift-type enamel evolved

    stylistically from Byzantium, which inspired both Russian and Western

    European interpretations of the earlier enamel crafts.

    Enamelling is a method of adhering a coloured glass compound to a

    metal base. When this is achieved by incising the surface of the metal and

    filling the vacant channels with enamel, it is generally referred to as

    champlev. The effect is flush across the piece as the enamel decoration is

    3

    Above. 1. Salts by various makers, c.1890,showing the champlev technique in designsinspired by embroidered textile. The tea glassholder dating from the same period is a typicalEastern European form and often appears atauction missing its original glass liner. Height oftea glass holder 14cm; diameter of largest salt ??BONHAMS

    Opposite. 3. This oklad, produced in Moscow,18991908, is enriched with elaborate filigree work.13.5 x 11cm.BONHAMS/ANDREY CHERVICHENKO

    ENAMELChapter 2

    CH 2. ENAMEL _Layout 1 17/12/2012 10:38 Page 2

  • As his fame spread, Faberg joined the uppermost category of masters

    such as the jewellery firms of Bollin, Hahn and Koechli who were not

    subject to guild restrictions. Those masters, who were employed

    exclusively to fulfill imperial commissions, dealt with the Court Office

    which negotiated the drawing to be used, the metal required, and the

    masters fee.13 Faberg was therefore amongst those who enjoyed a more

    privileged relationship with the Imperial Family. Von Habsburg points out

    that while Alexander III had participated with Faberg over the designs of

    the eggs the Tsar presented yearly to his consort, Nicholas II apparently

    left the entire creative evolution to the craftsmen so that they enjoyed

    virtually total artistic freedom.14 As Fabergs fame grew, he was able to

    bypass the Court Office and seemingly kept the entire world in suspense

    19

    FABERG

    33. A silver-mounted enamel clock. Faberg,workmaster Michael Perchin, St Petersburg,18991908, with scratch inventory number 8557.The upright case enriched with transluscentmauve enamel was the last Empress favouritecolour. The success of this clock at auction waslargely due to its impeccable provenance,documented in the Berwickshire News of 1903 asa wedding present from The Hon. Lady Miller toLaura Fordyce Buchan. It was consigned by adescendant and therefore kept its unbroken lineof pedigree for almost 100 years. Height 12.7cm. BONHAMS/PRIVATE COLLECTION

    Opposite. 39. A Faberg silver-mounted woodenframe, workmaster Hjalmar Armfelt,St Petersburg, c.1900. Height 24.7cm.WARTSKI, LONDON

    CH 4. FABERGE _Layout 1 17/12/2012 10:48 Page 18

  • As his fame spread, Faberg joined the uppermost category of masters

    such as the jewellery firms of Bollin, Hahn and Koechli who were not

    subject to guild restrictions. Those masters, who were employed

    exclusively to fulfill imperial commissions, dealt with the Court Office

    which negotiated the drawing to be used, the metal required, and the

    masters fee.13 Faberg was therefore amongst those who enjoyed a more

    privileged relationship with the Imperial Family. Von Habsburg points out

    that while Alexander III had participated with Faberg over the designs of

    the eggs the Tsar presented yearly to his consort, Nicholas II apparently

    left the entire creative evolution to the craftsmen so that they enjoyed

    virtually total artistic freedom.14 As Fabergs fame grew, he was able to

    bypass the Court Office and seemingly kept the entire world in suspense

    19

    FABERG

    33. A silver-mounted enamel clock. Faberg,workmaster Michael Perchin, St Petersburg,18991908, with scratch inventory number 8557.The upright case enriched with transluscentmauve enamel was the last Empress favouritecolour. The success of this clock at auction waslargely due to its impeccable provenance,documented in the Berwickshire News of 1903 asa wedding present from The Hon. Lady Miller toLaura Fordyce Buc