A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase
Lot 1362
A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase
Sold for US$ 528,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
Property from a Dutch family collection
A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase
A monumental Russian gilt-bronze-mounted porcelain vase
Imperial Porcelain Factory, St. Petersburg,
The bronze attributed to the Felix Chopin workshop
Period of Nicholas I (1825-1855)

The central band painted with luxurious floral garlands including rose, lily, carnation, dahlia, narcissus, viburnum, gladiola, coreopsis, viola, aster, polyantha, morning glories, campanula, nasturtium, stock and delphinium between lilac and gilt borders, enclosed by exuberant acanthus S-scrolls beneath a pierced corona, supported on a shaped plinth inset with oval plaques and applied with satyr masks, underglaze blue imperial cipher on upper rim, all raised on a later separate veined black marble plinth.
Greatest width over handles 32in (81.5cm); greatest height 32in (81.5cm); greatest diameter of corona 23 1/2in (59.5cm); dimensions of marble plinth 8 x 25 1/4 x 25 1/4in (20.5 x 64 x 64cm)

Footnotes

  • This vase was made during the second quarter of the 19th century when the Imperial Porcelain Factory produced the most remarkable monumental vases known to exist. This exceptional vase is one of the most striking examples to appear on the market in recent years. The intricacy and life-like quality of the floral decoration, the refined proportions, the abundance of decorative elements, and the superb quality of the bronze mounts are characteristic of the best porcelain produced at that time and were probably a collaboration between A. Novikov, F. Krasovskii and F. Chopin.

    Production of monumental porcelain vases reached its peak during the reign of Nicholas I. The Emperor’s own preference for porcelain presentation gifts and palace construction in Moscow and St. Petersburg greatly encouraged manufacture of magnificent porcelain objects. Grand porcelain vases were frequently exhibited at international fairs where they successfully competed against their European counterparts. Porcelain was also presented to the members of the Russian Imperial family.¹ Anne Odom, in Paintings on Porcelain Vases in Hillwood, says “porcelain formed a major component of the dowries of Nicholas‘s daughters, his niece Ekaterina Mikhailovna, and also for his sons at the time of their marriages. Nicholas, and his mother, Maria Fedorovna, wife of Paul I, wanted to make sure his daughters were sent off to Europe with impressive dowries.” ²

    A strikingly similar vase was produced by the Imperial Porcelain Factory for the dowry of the Grand Duchess Aleksandra (1825-1844), daughter of Nicholas I, for her wedding in 1843 to Prince Fredrich Wilhelm of Hesse-Kassel. After the Grand Duchess died in childbirth, her extensive dowry remained in Germany and eventually became part of the museum collection at Schloss Fasanerie, Eichenzell³(Fig. 1). The vases are almost identical except for the background color and variation in the floral compositions. It is known that Alexandra’s dowry was similar to the dowries of her older sisters, Maria and Olga. The dowries comprised important silver and porcelain services, vases and candelabra. It is therefore likely that several very similar vases were produced at the Imperial Factory to be included in the dowries.

    Both vases are outstanding examples of the stylistic shifts that took place at the factory in the second quarter of the 19th century. The established practice of decorating grand porcelain vases with copies of paintings in the Hermitage collection was giving way to more creative efforts. Factory artists were now encouraged to create original designs and to incorporate bronze mounts as a new decorative element. One of the most versatile and prolific designers, Aleksander Novikov (born 1793) was responsible for designing many magnificent porcelain vases, chandeliers and frames. Based on Novikov’s undisputed works and a number of original designs preserved in the Hermitage museum, the current vase can be attributed to him. The compressed silhouette of the current vase can be traced back to Novikov’s design for a chandelier executed in 1838 (Fig.2).
    The offered vase is constructed of four separate porcelain sections with gilt-bronze band, corona and encased in extraordinary neo-Rococo acanthus scrolls all mounted on a shaped plinth featuring satyr masks and oval floral plaques. These elaborate bronze mounts and the abundance of decorative details, which combine contrasting shapes, textures and materials, bear strong resemblance to a Novikov’s deign for a standing lamp (Fig.3).

    The spectacular bronze mounts were most likely made at the workshop of Felix Chopin, a frequent supplier to the Imperial Porcelain Factory. Chopin was known to produce bronzes of the highest quality. The curatorial records from the Schloss Fasanerie Museum further support this attribution as the mounts on the museums vase are identical.

    The exceptionally high quality of the richly painted garlands suggests the hand of Fedor Krasovskii (1820-1863). A renowned master of floral painting Krasovskii was particularly famous for decorating two porcelain tabletops, Brazilian Flora from the Hermitage collection and Siberian Flora from the State Russian Museum.

    The monumental size and exceptional quality strongly suggest that the offered vase was part of one of the Grand Duchess’s dowries or an Imperial gift from Nicholas I to a European princely family. Presumably purchased in Belgium around 1926, this magnificent vase has remained in possession of the current owner’s family until now.

    We would like to thank Dr. Natalia Sipovskaia for her contribution to this catalogue essay, Dr. Andreas Dobler of Museum Schloss Fasanerie, Eichenzell, Germany and the staff of the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia are also thanked for their assistance in researching this vase and providing images.

    ¹ More on this subject see Anne Odom, Paintings on Porcelain Vases at Hillwood, in Antiques, March 2005, page 132-139.
    ² Anne Odom, Russian Imperial Porcelain at Hillwood, Hillwood Museum and Gardens, Washington, Dc, 1999, page 71-72
    ³ Die Mitgift einer Zarentocher: Meisterwerke russischer Kunst des Historismus aus dem Besitz der Hessichen Hausstiftung Museum Schloss Fansanerie, Eurasburg: edition Minerva, 1997, page 190-191
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