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публикация №1630326202, версия для печати

"A MIRROR OF CULTURE"


Дата публикации: 30 августа 2021
Автор: Tatyana MOZZHUKHINA
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Рубрика: АНГЛИЙСКИЙ ЯЗЫК
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №3, 2010, C.99-106
Номер публикации: №1630326202 / Жалобы? Ошибка? Выделите проблемный текст и нажмите CTRL+ENTER!


by Tatyana MOZZHUKHINA, department head, Department of Russian and Foreign Ceramics, State Museum of Ceramics, Moscow; Kuskovo Estate Museum of the 18th century, Moscow, Russia

 

Kuskovo, the old familial estate of the Counts Sheremetyevs, is now home to a museum known far and wide in this and other countries. It offers a spectacular collection of ceramics, porcelain and glass manufactured by native masters and those brought in from many countries of Europe and the Orient since times immemorial.

 

ITS BIRTH

 

Our people should be greatly indebted to Alexei Morozov (1857-1934) who, like his well-known kins-men and art connoisseurs Mikhail and Ivan Abramo-vich as well as Savva Morozov and Sergei Morozov, were of the fourth generation of textile industry entre-preneurs whose fortunes ran into millions. A good deal of this wealth they spent for eleemosynary, philan-thropic purposes. Charity and art collecting figured prominently in their sideline activities. Alexei Morozov stinted no effort in collecting home-made engraved portraits, icons, and items of porcelain, glass- and sil-verware of the 18th century. He amassed a singular col-lection of porcelain and chinaware which he described as "outstanding in its fullness, and historical and utili-tarian significance". In 1918 his collection numbered as many as 2,600 items to make it a standout without

 
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peer. This country's first porcelain works launched in the 18th century (H.M. Porcelain Factory in St. Peters-burg)* produced genuine masterpieces all through the 18th and 19th centuries, and in the early part of the 20th century, too. Those were posh palatial vases adorned with copies of pictures from the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg, dinner services and tea- and coffee-sets, toiletry articles, ornamented cups, lockets, medallions, and lots of other precious things, some of them dating from the reign of Empress Elizabeth (1740-1761), coveted so much by art collectors. For one, the chinaware manufactured by Gardner's works in the 18th century-tableware and tea-sets, the famous double salt cellars with figurines, and Turkish-style tankards in the shape of male and female figures.

 

Alexei Morozov was all set to establish a museum which he planned to turn over to the city of Moscow. He put aside his mansion in one of Moscow's side-alleys, and had it furnished with sideboards and showcases. But his work was cut short-first by World War I in 1914, and then by the revolutionary events of 1917. Morozov bequeathed his collection to the state. In the spring of 1918a band of anarchists seized the Morozov mansion, and the collection survived by sheer miracle. Then the museum had to share its floorspace with all kinds of public organizations that inconvenienced greatly both the museum and its caretaker. Be that as it may, a muse-um of Russian antiquities was opened there on Dec. 14, 1919, with Alexei Morozov serving as a lifelong custodi-an of his collections, unique in many ways. In 1920 preparations went underway for a major exposition of porcelain articles brought in from private collections (nationalized in due course), palaces and mansions for-merly owned by the nobility and large industrialists, and landed estates. In March 1921 came a government decree changing the museum's status-from now on it was the Museum of Porcelain. It had to part with some of its wealth-engraved portraits, icons and silverware, handed over to other state-owned repositories.

 

Meanwhile its collection of porcelain increased two times over; quite a few works wrought by foreign mas-ters were already there. It was natural for the Porcelain Museum to expand into other areas-ceramics and related industries in Russia, Western Europe and the East. Thus it could provide a broader panorama of the trade, its history and background.

 

In the 1920s the new museum replenished its stock from other museums of Moscow and Leningrad, and other tsarist sanctuaries such as the Hermitage, the Armory Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin; many items were bought at auctions. The largest collections of for-eign porcelain and ceramics came from the houses of Lev Zubalov (1853-1914), and Dmitry Shchukin (1855-1932), the two best-known collectors in Moscow. The stock kept expanding through European and Russian articles of porcelain, glass and ceramics of the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries collected by other renowned Russian industrialists and public fig-ures-for one, Sergey Bakhrushin (1863-1922), a mer-chant and arts patron; Ilya Ostroukhov (1858-1929), an artist; Vladimir Hirschmann (1867-1937), a public per-sonality and philanthropist; Andrei (Heinrich) Brocar (1836-1900), a Moscow industrialist; Nikolai Ryabu-shinsky (1877-1951) and Mikhail Ryabushinsky (1880-1960), both industrialists and bankers; Felix Wisznew-ski (1902-1978)... The former H.M. Porcelain Works in St. Petersburg, too, contributed new products, first and foremost, articles of porcelain livened up with propa-ganda, agitation motifs.

 

 

* The Neva Porcelain Factory, founded in St. Petersburg in 1744, came to be known as H.M. Porcelain Factory as of 1765. In the 20th century, State Porcelain Works (Leningrad and then Lomonosov Works). Today this enterprise bears its old name.- Auth.

 
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By the end of the 1920s our inventory numbered as many as 16,500 items, including 12,500 articles of porcelain, 7,120 made in Russia. In fact, there were no regular depositaries-the entire collection was displayed in exhibits, including duplicate copies of sculptural works and that, naturally, was of special interest to experts.

 

Practical considerations were likewise in order: in its activities the museum was to forge ties with the ceram-ics industry, and so it set up a laboratory and workshops.

 

It organized a hobby group for children who were studying the history of ceramics and even making small items of this material.

 

OVER TO KUSKOVO

 

The Porcelain Museum stayed in the Morozov man-sion for as long as ten years. In 1929 it moved to new quarters, into the building housing the Number Two Museum of New Western Painting in Prechistenka, a street in the heart of Moscow. Established soon after

 
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the 1917 revolution, this arts museum incorporated the collection of Sergey Shchukin (1854-1936) and was accommodated in the collector's mansion. At that time the Porcelain Museum got its present name, that of the State Museum of Ceramics. Three years later, in 1932, it was moved to the country estate of Kuskovo. From 1938 on the Kuskovo palace-and-park ensemble and the State Museum of Ceramics grew into an integral complex: at first it displayed exhibits in palatial cham-bers. Today the exhibits are shown in the restored buildings of the Grand Stone and American Conser-vatories.

 

In the latter part of the nineteen hundreds, too, we kept replenishing our stock by purchasing works from collectors and contemporary artists. Furthermore, many enterprises of Russia's ceramics and glass indus-tries were sending in specimens of their production for upkeep. We are still getting donations from private indi-viduals, be it single works or small private collections.

 

Today our collections number as many as thirty thou-sand. These are the rarest pieces of antique ceramics and glass, works of Italian majolica and the handiwork of the French artist Bernard Palissy (ca. 1510-ca. 1589), the maker of brilliant wonders of the Renaissance age. These are also the exquisite Venetian (stained) glass ves-sels and Bohemian cut glass as well as works wrought by German, Spanish, Dutch and English ceramics-makers of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and masterpieces created by magicians of the Middle and Far East. The Modernist Style is represented by the illustrious French firms of Emile Galle (1846-1904), the pioneer art glass designer, Réné Lalique (1860-1945), the jeweler and art-glass master, to name but a few.

 

In their diversity and high artistic level our collec-tions (porcelain above all) owe a great deal to the private collections that, way back in the 1920s, entered into our museum as its founding stock. We offer a great variety of objects, both typical, common and uni-que specimens manufactured by Europe's leading porcelain- and ceramics-making centers of the 18th century. For instance, the products of the first Euro-pean enterprise at Meissen, Saxony, and other factories in Germany, those of Frankental, Choechst, Lud-wigsburg, Berlin and Fuersenberg; also, the earliest specimens produced by factories in Copenhagen, Denmark. Add to all that the original creations of the first English plants at Chelsea, Bow and Derby; the masterpieces of Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795), famous for his earthenware, stoneware and high-grade "jasper" faience. Our 19th-century collection includes spectac-ular creations wrought at Sevres near Paris (porcelaine de Sevres) and at many factories in Paris. We have sub-glaze painted pieces (with paint put on porcelain baked beforehand, before glazing; this technique was invent-ed in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the close of the 19th century).

 

OUR GOLDEN FUND

 

Let's take a closer look at the most remarkable private collections in our custody.

 

The largest one in the foreign section of our museum came from Lev Zubalov, a Moscow resident whose family had an oil business near Baku. His interests zeroed in on foreign art. In 1917, upon his death, his heirs handed the Zubalov collection to the Rumyantsev museum in Moscow founded in the 19th century; it became a mecca for many Russian collectors. In 1924 the collection of the Porcelain Museum was turned over there, as many as 700 items. Nearly half were of German make, with a large set coming from Meissen.

 
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These included great masterpieces of the 18th century that could take pride of place in any venerable collec-tion of Europe. The earliest Meissen creations were done in the chinoiserie, or Chinese style (from the French chinois, Chinese); apart from chinaware and related items, Chinese motifs of the Middle Ages suf-fused European pictorial arts, costumes and landscape architecture and gardening of the 18th century. The paintings of lohann Gregor Herold (1696-1775) were common, too.

 

Zubalov was proud of the world's largest dinner set adorned with exotic landscapes and fanciful animals pictured in the characteristic and expressive manner of the German artist Adam Friedrich von Loewenfink (1714-1754). This set is now certainly a gem in the col-lections of our Museum of Ceramics. There is also a large number of pieces of the 1740s and 1750s livened up with picturesque décor; vases and items of the St. Andrew service, a gift from the Saxonian Kurfurst August III to the Russian Empress Yelizaveta Petrovna (Empress Elizabeth, 1709-1761; ruled in 1740-1741). We should also name sculptures designed after models of the German masters lohann Ioachim Kendler and Friedrich Elias Meier, also dating to the 18th century; timepieces and candelabra of bronze made in France and embellished with Meissen porcelain figurines. Just as interesting is a collection of sculptures manufactured at famous plants of 18th-century Germany-Franken-tal, Choechst, Ludwigsburg, Nimfenburg.

 

Zubalov's collection is likewise rich in wares pro-duced by leading porcelain factories in other European countries: Sevres (France), Vienna (Austria), Tourne (Belgium), Wedgwood (England). Several relics from the well-known ceramics centers of Italy, Germany and the Low Countries (16th to 18th cent.) in the Zubalov col-lection are a precious contribution to our European ceramic ware. Incidentally, specimens of the famed stained Venetian glass and unique Russian glass of the 18th century are also in our museum.

 

The second largest collection in the foreign ceramics department of our museum-both in its numbers and artistic merits-comes from the merchant Dmitry Shchukin whose family owned a major industrial and commercial business in Moscow. Shchukin's overriding passion was in old European pictorial art. He was col-lecting works of German, Italian, French and Dutch painters of the 15th to 18th centuries; this collection was turned over to the State Museum of Fine Arts (named after Alexander Pushkin in 1937) in Moscow in 1924. His collection of porcelain and ceramics landed with us-just about 200 pieces, each exquisite in its décor. Half of this number is the handiwork of Meissen masters of the 18th century, including the now rare works of lohann Gregor Herold of the 1720s that figure prominently with us. Also, there are the early speci-mens of Meissen plastic arts and a variety of items dis-playing different types of décor and Meissen pictorial motifs, including a complete tête-à-tête service with the Dresden sights. Our standing exhibition features top-class pieces hailing from many European manufacto-ries: classical china, Italian majolica and German ceramics, delftware (glazed pottery, usually blue, which originated in Delft, Holland) and French glazed pot-tery, all that from the Shchukin collection. Together with the Zubalov collection, these masterpieces make up our "golden fund".

 
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Our collection also exhibits a number of works from the leading enterprises of Denmark, in particular, from the Copenhagen Royal Porcelain Manufactory and the "Bing and Groendal" factory. A considerable part of these pieces comes from the private collection of Em-press Maria Feodorovna (Danish Princess Dagmar, née 1847), married to the Russian Emperor Alexander III. It includes 18th-century relics, parts of services and sculptures as well as the well-known merchandise of the early 20th century, such things as vases, dishes, and ornate glazed plastic pieces. One rarity is a dish with the image of the Russian flagship Roerik heading a Russian squadron that paid a friendly visit to the Danish capital.

 

The celebrated Egyptian Service, a unique creation of the world-famous manufactory at Sevres, France, is a holy of holies of the 19th-century foreign porcelain. Made in the Napoleonic Age, in 1804 to 1806, it is a classical example of the ornate, elegant Empire style materialized in porcelain. The service, honoring the French campaign in Egypt in 1798, was created according to sketches and engravings of Baron Domi-nique Vivant Denon (1747-1825), a master French en-graver who took an immediate part in that campaign. An enthusiastic Egyptologist, he served as the first director of Le Louvre in Paris. Egyptian motifs and impressions permeate the decor of this wonderful ser-vice that takes in as many as 136 different objects merg-ing into one ensemble which includes the table decor, le surtout de table, composed of thirteen architectural ele-ments, each representing a miniature copy of a partic-ular temple of different ages and styles, all that held together by rigorous symmetry. The service was in two parts: one for dessert, and the other for coffee and tea (cabaret). Its decor is well considered and circumstan-tial. The cobalt blue and gold tinsel hues traditional for 18th-century French porcelain blend nicely with a backdrop of sandy gray done en grisaille (in mono- and nonochromic gray and dark brown colors, sepia for the most part). The local couleur is true to life calling up the images of everlasting Egypt. The author used a vari-ety of symbols framed in gold, such as ancient hiero-glyphics, geometric designs, zodiacal signs, and ele-ments of plants. Each cup, plate and saucer carries a singular, one-of-a-kind ornament. The plates, sixty-six in all, depict Egyptian antiquities alongside modern structures, situation scenes and war episodes related to the Napoleonic campaign in Egypt.

 

The Egyptian Service was meant for special recep-tions in the Palais des Tuilerie of Paris. But the fates decreed it otherwise: this wonderwork landed in Russia among other precious diplomatic gifts. Following the historic meetings between Napoleon and Russian Emperor Alexander I in Tilsit (1807) and in Erfurt (1808), this unique service was presented to the Russian Emperor to seal a French-Russian alliance. For more than a century it was kept idle in tsarist storerooms (apparently it was never served) and afterwards, in the 1920s, it was taken to the Porcelain Museum as an extraspecial work of its age. In the 1990s and early 2000s it was shown time and again at exhibitions in France, Austria, Germany, Canada and Japan.

 

Our museum has a rich collection of porcelain pro-duced by this country's major private enterprises, rang-ing from Gardner, Alexei Popov (a merchant; his busi-

 
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ness was on up until the 1870s), Philip Batenin (in St. Petersburg till 1838), Anton and then llya Safronov (up until 1860s), and the Kornilov brothers (before 1918) to numerous Gzhel shops near Moscow. We have a few items made long ago at little-known factories. The most striking items made at this or that factory were invariably present in the Morozov collection and thence they got into our museum. We have a peerless collection of Russian plastic porcelain made by as good as all home enterprises known to us, from the earliest specimens of H.M. and Gardner enterprises to individual works creat-ed at the turn of the 20th century. We are also featuring collections of the initial Soviet period, for instance, dozens of figures in the "Peoples of Russia" series made at H.M. Porcelain Factory by its leading sculptors Stepan Pimenov (1784-1833) and August Spies (1817-1904), and artist Konstantin Somov (1869-1939). Porcelain plastic articles produced at Moscow are another example of consummate perfection. These are hundreds of sculp-tural pieces created at the Gardner plant and suffused with Russian ethnic motifs. Figures and figurines depict-ing sundry social groups-peasants, tradesmen, pedlars and so forth-bear a vivid seal of Russian national identi-ty in 19th-century porcelain. The products of the Popov plant are even wider in the range of motifs and situations (folklore and pop scenes, too), and so are the naive, homely sculptures manufactured at Gzhel's peasant workshops. All these sculptural images mirror various facets of this country's life and mores for well over eigh-teen hundred years.

 

We have expanded our wealth through collections contributed by state-run repositories, including rarities and relics of the 18th and 19th centuries wrought at H.M. Porcelain Factory. The oldest piece of Russian porcelain dating to 1748 is the podstawka (candy-basin) that belonged to Dmitry Vinogradov, the Rus-sian porcelain inventor. Side by side there, are the specimens of the first Russian services meant for H.M. palaces and the upper crust of nobility. For instan-ce, a portion of the personal service of Empress Eliza-beth; or luxury objects owned by Count Grigory Or-lov (1737-1783).

 

We are in care of an amazing collection of Russian ceramics and faience (glazed earthenware). Although not as large as that of Russian porcelain, it is remark-able in many ways. These are objects of the 18th-centu-ry Gzhel majolica, exotic articles manufactured by pri-vately owned factories of the 19th century, among them, those belonging to the Kuznetsov brothers (con-tinued in operation up until the 1917 revolution). The nonpareil tessellated works of the great Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910) are also in this group.

 

We are having excellent exhibits of Russian glassware, including the now rare items made at Izmailovo, Moscow, and in St. Petersburg back in the early 18th century. In this collection are superb specimens of engraved glass of the mid-18th century dating to the reign of Empress Elizabeth, and colored glass produced in the latter half of the seventeen hundreds. The Russian glass of the 19th century is just as variegated: for instance, stained glass articles are enhanced by sophisticated decoration techniques, as seen in the example of palatial vases created at N.M. Glass Works (in St. Petersburg between the end of the 18th to the

 
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beginning of the 20th cent.) in the style of Empire, "historical method"* and Moderne**.

 

We are justly proud of our fairly large collection of porcelain produced soon after 1917 that has inscribed a bright page in the 20th-century arts. We would like to call attention to what was known as "agitation", slogan-istic porcelain and the nonesuch creations of the avant-garde masters of the early 20th century, who made their singular contribution in inimitable style, creative man-ner and verve. We would like to point in particular to pictorial compositions of Sergei Chekhonin (1878-1936), Rudolf Vilde (1862-1937/1942), Mikhail Ada-mowicz (1884-1947), Alexandra Shchekatikhina-Potocki (1892-1967), Zinaida Kobyletskaya (1880-1957) and Alexei Vorobjevski (1906-1992). The great Kazimir Malewicz (1878/79-1935) and his pupils Nikolai Suetin (1897-1954) and Ilya Chashnik (1902-1929) have contributed their suprematist porcelain.*** Also in this category are unique objects (tea pair, 1921) ornamented after Vassily Kandinsky (1866-1944); a gallery of sculptural images portrayed by Natalia Danko (1892-1942) and many other masterpieces appreciated so much by fine arts lovers.

 

"MOST IMMEDIATE ART"

 

That's what Alexander Saltykov, a contemporary art appreciation expert, calls ceramics. This is quite natural: things so much common to us and to different gen-erations before us demonstrate both technical progress and consummate mastership. Ordinary, commonplace bowls and glasses, plates and dishes, teapots and vases turn into real works of art passed down from generation to generation as family holies. In time these objects become collection items and acquire a status of nation-al heritage.

 

That is why porcelain, the most perfect form of ceramic earthenware in great favor during the 18th cen-tury, is described as a "mirror of culture". This defini-tion befits other kinds of ceramic ware, and glass, too. Reflected in this "mirror" are the fads and passions of the centuries, artistic ideas brought in from different arts and ages, aesthetic ideals and a host of images-mythological, biblical and literary. All that is in this mirror. Images of the past come alive: heroes, royal dig-nitaries and even cute female heads copied from fash-ion-plates. Major world events and grand architectural monuments are in the focus there, too. This makes such works an essential element of retrospective and theme exhibitions devoted to a particular epoch. We travel back in time.

 

 

* Historical method (or Eclecticism)-an architectural trend that held sway in Europe and Russia between the 1830s and 1890s.-Ed.

** See: T. Geidor, "Russian Architecture of the Silver Age", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2009.-Ed.

*** Suprematism-an avant-garde trend born in the early 1910s and harking back to Kazimir Malewicz.-Ed.

Опубликовано 30 августа 2021 года

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