Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, October 31, 1989, lot 29.
Anonymous sale, Ader Tajan, Paris, November 13, 1991, lot 49.
Property of a European Collector, sold, Christie's, New York, October 26, 2001, lot 298.
This pair of vases belongs to a small group made in St. Petersburg circa 1801-1805. They are all thought to have been made by the most celebrated of the Russian bronziers Friedrich Bergenfeldt after the design executed in 1801 by Andrei Voronikhin (illustrated, A. Kuchumov, Russian Decorative Art in the Collections of the Pavlovsk Palace Museum, 1981, p. 323). the present vase, however, is the only example which records Bergenfeldt's signature.
Andrei Voronikhin (1759-1814)
Voronikhin was born into a family of serfs working on the estates of Count Stroganoff. He trained in painting in the workshop of Gabriel Yushkova, where he drew the attention of the Count who sent him to train in Moscow. Voronikhin was liberated in 1785 and for the next several years studied in France and in Switzerland. Count Stroganoff was one of Voronikhin’s most important patrons; he commissioned the former serf to finish the interiors of the Stroganoff Palace on the Nevskky Prospect, as well as other Stroganov residences. He also built the Kazan Cathedral and worked with Brenna at Pavlovsk.
Friedrich Bergenfeldt (1768-1822)
Bergenfeld was born in Westphalia and like many other German craftsmen, he moved to Russia in the 1790s. He worked in the workshop of the bronzier Yan Aoustin, and also with Charles Dreyer, followed by a period of time spent in Paris. Returning to Russia in 1801 he established his own workshop on the Fontanka Embankment. His advertisement in the local newspaper announced the sale of all manner of “bronze ornaments such as vases, candelabra, casolettes, girandoles, chandeliers, veilleuses etc. in the antique taste and of a quality equal to that of French bronzes."
Both Voronikhin and Bergenfeldt appear to have been influenced by the work of the Paris bronzier Claude Galle. The Voronikhin design closely resembles a vase made by Galle for Schloss Ludwigsburg in 1800 (reproduced, Ottomeyer & Proschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Vol. I, Munich, 1986, p. 365, fig. 5.12.11).
A pair of comparable vases is with Ariane Dandois, Paris, illustrated, Ariane Dandois, L'Empire à travers l'Europe, Paris, 2000, catalogue number 22. This pair is of more cylindrical form and is flanked by a pair of mermaids clearly derived from the figures on the Voronikhin drawing; it is fitted with identical mounts of Neptune and Amphitrite but lacks the "grotto" on the base. Another pair formerly in the collections of the Counts Bobrinski is illustrated, I. Sychev, "Friedrich Bergenfeldt, an Unknown Russian Bronzier," Russian Jeweler, No.1, 1998, p. 31 (Dandois, p.cit.). A further pair is in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence, illustrated, M. Chiarini & S. Padovani, Gli Appartamenti Reali di Palazzi Pitti, Florence, 1993, p. 229, fig. II.36. This pair, like the Dandois examples, is fitted with mermaids at each side, mounts depicting Neptune and Amphitrite and with the "grotto" scene found on the present vase.
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