The State Porcelain Factory

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The State Porcelain Factory Biography

At the start of the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Bolsheviks nationalised and rebranded the Imperial Porcelain Factory as the State Porcelain Factory, or Gossudarstvennyi Farforovyi Zavod. Output during this time focused on propaganda pieces such as plates and figures to disseminate Communist ideology both in the USSR and abroad, as was decreed by the government in the Spring of 1918. According to this decree, ‘art was to become an active force in building a new socialist society and a new culture’ (N. Lobanov-Rostovsky, ‘Soviet Propaganda Porcelain’ in The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, vol. 11, Russian/Soviet Theme Issue 2 [Winter, 1989], p. 128). The visual arts were an especially effective means of propagating ideology due to their ability to be understood by both literate and illiterate people.

That same year, a Council of People’s Commissars voted to instate the People’s Commissariat for Enlightenment - also known as Narkompros - as the ruling authority over the factory, headed by Bolshevik Anatolii Lunacharsky. Upon the 200th anniversary of the Russian Academy of Science in 1925, the company was again renamed as the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory in honour of the academy’s founder, Mikhail Lomonosov, and production began to include dinner services and animal figurines. In 1993, after the dissolution of the USSR two years earlier, the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory was privatised in 1993. In 2002, it was bought by the President of Nikoil, Nikolai Tsvetkov.

The Petrograd branch was led by Natan Altman, and the Moscow branch by Vladimir Tatlin. Sergei Chekhonin, one of the great names among the factory’s roster, was also a member of the board and artistic director of the factory. His style is defined by refinement and decorative elements in the rendering of revolutionary symbols. Other notable artists who worked for the State Porcelain Factory include Vasilii Kandinsky, Mikhail Adamovich, Vasilii Timorev, Alexandra Shchekotikhina-Pototskaia, Maria Lebedeva, and Varvara Freze (N. Lobanov-Rostovsky, p. 127).

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