he Classic Design auction offers the finest examples of European furniture, clocks, silver, ceramics and objects of vertu.
It’s in the Details
Highlights from a Distinguished Private Collection
A pair of rare and important porcelain vases,
Imperial Porcelain Factory, St Petersburg, period of Nicholas I, late 1820s
We are delighted to offer a selection of works produced by St Petersburg’s Imperial Porcelain Factory (lots 178-180), including this rare and important pair of vases. Conceived as a pair and executed by the Factory’s masterful painters Semyon Golov and Vasily Meshcheriakov these two vases are fit for a palace, as evidenced by the palace labels affixed to their bases. Elegant and retrained in their design, they represent the largest created in this form.
- The Technique of Gilded Porcelain
The process of gilding porcelain requires repeated layering and firing of gold leaf on the object to fuse the thin sheet of gold to the surface of the ware. As such, it was an extremely expensive technique. One of the features of richly gilded porcelain such as the present vases is that they would reflect the light around them, thus brightening their environment and drawing the eye to their scintillating bodies.
- The Form
Conceived of as an elegant pair, the form of these vase with elaborately modelled scrolling handles, and a restrained background of gold and white stripes has stylistic corollaries with the Imperial Porcelain Factory from 1815-1830, the restrained palette dates the present pair to the late 1820s. The form of these vases was very popular during both the periods of Emperor Alexander I and Emperor Nicholas I and was produced in four sizes. The present pair of vases represent the largest created in this form.
- Semyon Golov
Semyon Golov (circa 1783-1849) was one of the Imperial Porcelain Factory’s best copyists, specialising in both history and figural painting. Having trained under A. Adam, he was employed as a painter at the factory in 1814 and rose to the ranks of Master of Painting in 1819.
- Vasily Mescheriakov
Also initially a student of Adam and contemporary of Golov, Vasily Meshcheriakov (born 1781) too studied under Adam and specialised in figural painting. Over the course of his career, Meshcheriakov replicated works by Russia’s and Europe’s masters, including Terebemev, Poussin, Albani and van Waelsen.
- The period
During the reign of Emperor Nicholas I, many of the vases produced by the Imperial Porcelain Factory were decorated with copies of nineteenth-century and Old Master paintings. Consistent with the European predilection for using academic paintings as porcelain design sources, the middle section of the vase was treated by factory artists as a canvas on which to showcase their work after important paintings. The paintings were typically scaled-down, faithful copies of original works in the Imperial Hermitage, the Academy of Arts or from collections in the imperial palaces in the vicinity of St Petersburg.
- Inventory Labels
On the base of each of these vases are old labels, numbered 388 and 389 respectively, suggesting they were displayed together.