Silver gilt and enamel presentation beaker, by Pavel Ovchinnikov Firm, c. 1897
Lot 146*
A silver-gilt and enamel Imperial presentation beakerPavel Ovchinnikov Firm, Moscow, 1896
Sold for £15,000 (US$ 25,212) inc. premium
Auction Details
Silver gilt and enamel presentation beaker, by Pavel Ovchinnikov Firm, c. 1897
Lot Details
A silver-gilt and enamel Imperial presentation beaker
Pavel Ovchinnikov Firm, Moscow, 1896
of tapering form, elaborately decorated with daffodils, daisies and lilies, flocks of birds flying amid fruit -bearing branches and flowers, and a large grey cat sitting under a tree with two red-breasted birds executed in fine varicolored shaded cloisonné enamel; the front with attached coat of arms of St. Petersburg within a folded ribbon under the Russian Imperial crown; with border or alternating dark and light blue pallets around the lower end, with gilded interior, in original red velvet and cream silk-lined wooden box stamped with retailer's insignia and mounted on the lid with bronze Imperial coat of arms for city of St. Petersburg, maker's mark stamped over partially visible workmaster's initial, 84 standard
height: 10cm (3 7/8in).


  • This historically important beaker was most likely presented to a French naval officer during the official visit of Mr. Felix Faure (1841-1899), president of the French Republic during his visit to Russia in 1897. It was the first French diplomatic visit of the highest level since Emperor Nicholas II ascended the Russian throne. Both countries perceived it as an important step towards strengthening the Franco-Russian alliance and preserving peace in Europe.

    For the arrival of the French President, St. Petersburg was transformed into an enormous festive pavilion with welcoming signs, French and Russian flags, flowers and posters reading 'Vive la France! Vive la Russie'. Thousands of people lined the main avenues of the Russian capital to greet the official French delegation and to express a feeling of enthusiasm and friendship. The French President and his delegation were greeted with the utmost hospitality and an enormous celebratory outpouring. After the official dinner on the 11th of August, the French delegation was treated to a grand opera performance of M. Glinka's 'La Vie pour le Tzar'. The following days consisted of numerous official receptions, a military parade, fireworks, the ceremonial unveiling of monuments, bridges and the opening of charitable institutions. On many occasions members of the French delegation were presented with gifts from the city of St. Petersburg, from the Governor of the Russian capital and Imperial court.

    Photographs published in period newspapers preserved for posterity images of the Russian official gifts, many of which were made by the leading Russian silversmiths and well-known firms, such as Carl Fabergé, Pavel Ovchinnikov and Ivan Khlebnikov. Many of these gifts were ceremonial bratinas (large round wine serving bowls with group of small drinking cups), beakers, mugs, cups and various sizes of kovshi (drinking vessels shaped as a swimming bird), and were decorated with Russian ornaments vividly representing the preference for the national artistic tradition and interest in revival of the traditional crafts. The present silver and enamel beaker was most likely one of such presents. It closely resembles the beakers illustrated in the popular magazine Vsemirnaia Illustratsiia (1897, number 1493, page 256). All of these gifts were decorated with a profusion of floral designs or traditional vernacular ornaments and many were applied with the silver-gilt coat-of-arms of St. Petersburg.

    The present beaker is elaborately decorated with beautiful flowers, birds and an unusual scene of a large cat closely watching a group of birds perched on a tree. Exquisitely enamelled and beautifully gilded, the beaker is the perfect example of Russian enamel work and illustrates the preference for the traditional Russian artistic styles in official gifts presented to foreign dignitaries.
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  1. Daria Chernenko
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