Libmonster ID: RU-17172
Author(s) of the publication: Olga PROTOPOPOVA

by Olga PROTOPOPOVA, journalist

The treasure-house of the All-Russia Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts and Crafts in terms of materials (wood, fabric, metal, ceramics, bone, etc.), types of art (carving, painting, casting, lacemaking, embroidery, furniture design, etc.) and geography of development centers of respective crafts and trades (from Arkhangelsk to Caucasia and from St. Petersburg to Yakutia) is really inexhaustible. Therefore, each section of the exposition is certainly worthy of a detailed description. But we shall focus on the major displayed works, which impressively characterize Russian style extending in the second half of the 19th century to all creative works.

The museum we are going to visit is in the area of Moscow, where in the 17th century the country mansions of the boyar Lukyan Streshnev, father of Yevdokiya Lukyanovna, the second wife of Tsar Mikhail Romanov, were situated. In 1783 the estate was inherited by Count Ivan Osterman, and three years later he built there an impressive stone three-storeyed palace linked by covered arcades to two-storeyed outhouses with archways for getting to the backyard. In such state, without major changes, the ensemble designed by an architect presumably from the circle of Matvei Kazakov* is preserved up to the present time.

In 1834, the Osterman house, as it is often called even today, suffered heavily from a fire during the Patriotic

* Matvei Kazakov--an architect, one of the founders of Russian Classicism, who designed senate houses in the Kremlin, the university and other unique constructions in Moscow. See: N. Frolova, "Treasure-House of Architecture", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2007.--Ed.

War of 1812, was sold to the Holy Synod, which opened there the Moscow Theological College. In 1918, the house was occupied by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee of Soviets of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies and in 1945 by the RSFSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and the Council of Ministers. In 1981, the museum under discussion, which opened that year, moved in. It is one of the biggest museums of such profile in the world and the only one in our country, which combines in its expositions articles of national craftsmen of the 14th-17th centuries and works of outstanding artists of the 18th-20th centuries and our contemporaries.

Nevertheless, such a young cultural and educational institution has a long-standing history. In 1885, the businessman, patron and advocate of preservation of the national cultural heritage Sergei Morozov founded the Trade and Industrial Museum of Handicraft Articles in

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Moscow (in 1931 it was named after its founder). At that time the museum workers started to prepare collections of household articles of "Russian antiquity", best works of decorative and applied arts of leading artists and peasant craftsmen, and helped them master new forms.

Shortly after, in Europe enthusiastic comments came up about the "temple of crafts", which presented works by national craftsmen at the international exhibitions in Paris (1904), Milan (1906) and Leipzig (1907). Much of its fame is due to cooperation with outstanding artists, including Apollinary Vasnetsov, Vasily Vatagin, Sergei Go-loushev and Ivan Oveshkov, who were supporters of the then dominating Russian style*. The All-Russia Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts and Crafts was perhaps the first to realize the significance of that singular phenomenon for world culture by adopting it as one of the main directions of its activity. In 1999, it added the said Morozov collection to its stock, and in 2010 it marked its 125th anniversary in the capacity of its successor.

First of all, Russian style expressed itself in ceramic articles. In the 1780s-1790s, the Imperial Porcelain Factory (St. Petersburg)** made groups of sculptures "Traders and Craftsmen" and "Peoples of Russia". The Moscow enterprise of Franz Gardner (the oldest and largest private enterprise in Russia in early 19th century) took up a national theme and in 1820s-1830s produced a tea- and coffee-set in classical forms decorated with amazingly realistic images of different scenes from the peasant life.

Most interesting is a set of dishes made at the said factory in St. Petersburg from sketches by the architect and academician of painting Fyodor Solntsev. The plates are decorated in a traditional Russian style, and the covers of big items have images in the form of a Herculean helmets (1848). St. Petersburg factory of Kornilov brothers also produced wonderful porcelain goods from the 1850s. For example, first of all, the truly regal set Tête-à-tête (1860s-1880s) white and claret-colored, decorated with a golden design resembling bowls and dishes made by national craftsmen of the 17th century, displayed at the State Historical Museum*.

It is well-known that wood was the most common material in Russia at all times. It was available in abundance in its vast expanses and was used from time immemorial not only for housing construction but also for manufacture of practically everything necessary for man. The national color began penetrating into all forms of art in the mid-19th century starting from articles made from wood. The museum displays one of the early samples of furniture in Russian style, i.e. a high wardrobe made in the Nizhni Novgorod Region in the 1870s. Its two lower shelves supported by props jut out relative to its upper shelf. Mica foil is well-preserved on the carved doors. It was used for "glazing" in the 17th century, but in the wardrobe it imitated the old-time prototype. The exposition also includes an armchair "Shaft-bow, Axe and Gloves" with an inscription at the back "The slower you ride the farther you will go", which was popular

See: T. Geidor, "Diversity of Styles in Russian Architecture", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2009.--Ed.

** See: T. Mozzhukhina. "A Mirror of Culture", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2010.--Ed.

See: V. Yegorov, "Treasure-House of Russian History", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2004; O. Bazanova, "Precious Witnesses of History", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2008.--Ed.

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almost for 40 years (1871, author Vasily Shutov, a teacher of St. Petersburg Central School of Technical Drawing sponsored by the baron Stieglitz*).

Most of the articles on display made from ormolu (1860s-1880s) combine manufacturing methods of the past and traditional décor. But, say, small plastic items for utilitarian functions (candlesticks, writing sets, etc.) represent mostly male and female figures. For example, the paper press "Peasant Holiday-Maker" and the paperweight "Dancing Peasant" of the unknown author (1850s-1860s), a pair of candlesticks "A Boy and a Girl Pulling Barrels" made in the 1880s from a sketch by the sculptor Yevgeny Lansere (the elder).

In the second half of the 19th-early 20th centuries national golden and silver crafts with a history of about a thousand years were experiencing the age of progress

* Central School of Technical Drawing-today St. Petersburg State Art and Industrial Academy named after its founder and sponsor Alexander Stieglitz, a major Russian financier, art fan and patron.--Ed.

undoubtedly connected with return to their sources. Talented craftsmen revived ancient techniques and forms down to cloisonné, the most sophisticated method (the outline of a future image is put on a thin plate, for example, a silver plate, and narrow strips made of the same metal are fixed vertically on the plate, and the formed capacity is filled with enamel of the required color) mentioned already in the chronicles of early 12th century.

The company of Ignaty Sazikov, which had factories in Moscow and Petersburg, and was considered among the best in the mid-19th century, was the first in our country to turn to national history and art. The enterprises of Pavel Ovchinnikov and Ivan Khlebnikov also successfully worked in Russian style in the above-mentioned cities. In 1990, the Moscow collector Gennady Kubryakov transferred to the museum (free of charge) a big collection of metal articles including a wonderful 35 cm high silver vase decorated with enamel, tula and gilding, and manufac-

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tured by craftsmen of the Ovchinnikov factory early in the 20th century. It is decorated with a portrait of a hero in a helmet, who kills a serpent with a mace, and insertions made from semi-precious stones. Besides, among gifts there are bronze cast icons, shaft-bow bells, a number of various samovars, etc.

The glassware section displays a decanter from a set made in the 1870s at the Imperial Glass Factory (Petersburg) from a sketch of the architect Ippolit Monighetti and also a set for liquors from the Dyatkovo Crystal Factory owned by the Maltsov family (Bryansk Region) nicknamed "with devils", a green shtof (bottle) and small glasses decorated with dancing imps and instructive inscriptions. The author of such edifying products was a well-known painter and graphic artist Elisaveta Bern (Elisabeth Bohm), who cooperated with this company in the 1890s and, in particular, developed glassware specimens in "Russian style".

The "hypostasis" of Russian style next in time was the so-called neo-Russian style (one of the modern* trends spread in national culture in late 19th-early 20th cent.) formed as a result of innovative studies in the field of decorative and applied arts, new interpretation as if discovering anew Medieval architecture, monumental painting, icon painting and folk crafts. This trend originated from the Moscow estate of Abramtsevo owned by the entrepreneur Sawa Mamontov, Russian Lorenzo Medici as his contemporaries used to call him, a personality of unusual energy devoted to arts and a patron of talents.

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

The estate was a meeting place for such outstanding painters as Ilya Repin, Viktor Vasnetsov*, Vasily Polenov, Konstantin Korovin**, Valentin Serov, Mikhail Nesterov and also organizers of cottage industry and researchers of folk art Maria Yakunchikova and Yelena Polenova. In 1891, Yakunchikova in cooperation with Natalia Davy-dova(in 1917-1921 director of the above-mentioned Museum of Handicraft Articles) opened workshops in the village of Solominka, Tambov Region, where local women took up embroidery in the form of fine Bohemian and Venetian beads according to ancient samples, and then she collected a substantial number of such articles displayed today at the museum. Pleasant to the eye are bunches and swags of flowers, butterflies, genre paintings, and water-color paintings on handbags, purses, belts, slippers, wallets, tobacco pouches, tobacco boxes, inkpots, caskets and a number of other "nice small things" made by craftsmen.

Yelena Polenova (sister of the outstanding landscape painter Vasily Polenov) greatly contributed to the development of national traditions in furniture design. She traveled to distant and near corners of the country to study folk art and created scores of designs based on sketches and drawings brought from her trips. For example, a two-tier cabinet (1885-1890) or an oak massive cupboard (1890s) made at the Abramtsevo carpenter's workshop (opened in 1882). These and other articles, made from her sketches employing mainly a stylized

See: M. Vikturina, "An Art Expert Recalls", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2000.--Ed.

** See: L. Lyashenko, "Music of Color", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2011.--Ed.

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design as a major technique, are rich in incised geometrical or floral ornament.

In those days the painter Apollinary Vasnetsov, another habitué of the Mamontov house, was also carried away by furniture design. His monumental cupboard with stained glass windows in upper doors and decorated with forged metal looks very elegant. Mikhail Vrubel made a bench for the Abramtsevo park and decorated its back and seat with majolica and outlandish birds. Moreover, this type of ceramics, in which Italian craftsmen had succeeded greatly in the epoch of Renaissance, was the main attraction for the famous painter known for his versatile talents. The baked colored clay has indeed a very "meaningful" look covered with luster (transparent film made from an alloy of different metals) and resembling, like coarse dabs of a painter, a scattering of edged crystals!

In 1890, there was built a potter's workshop at the estate, where, under guidance of the experienced ceramist Pyotr Vaulin, Vrubel (together with Viktor Vasnetsov, Valentin Serov, and others) set about to study the majolica art. After he mastered its specific features, he created a series of sculptures and also a monumental panel, which represented a meeting of Russian epic heroes Mikula Selyaninovich and Volga (1898-1899) and served as a decoration for a fireplace. Researchers are familiar with its five copies, and one of them decorates the local exposition to the great pride of staff members of the museum.

Talashkino village in the environs of Smolensk, an estate of the princess Mariya Tenisheva, a well-known public figure, enamel painter, teacher, patron and collector, was the second (after Abramtsevo) center of development of neo-Russian style, namely, furniture design. A talented artist with an exquisite taste she opened a woodworking workshop in her estate in 1903 and invited the painter and architect Sergei Malyutin to head it. The museum exhibits elegant pieces of furniture made on the basis of his sketches, such as a dining table, chairs, bin-type bench and corner wardrobe known for their light convex elements of decorative fretwork. As a whole, the works of local craftsmen were characterized by a stylized design of ancient Russian popular forms and décor with fabulous plots, in which geometrical, floral and zoomor-phic ornaments were interwoven.

The Moscow Gubernia Council also established a similar enterprise in Sergiev Posad*, with which Viktor Vasnetsov cooperated. Fortunately, the museum houses furniture made there on the basis of his designs in the early 20th century such as a sideboard (on the principle of a dresser, a low cupboard with shelves for crockery, one of the most ancient pieces of Russian furniture) and three curtainrods decorated with metal and carving with stylized images of birds, flowers and the sun. Besides, the Fairy Tale corner wardrobe, made at the same workshop from a sketch of its head , the painter Vladimir Sokolov, is decorated, in addition, with artificial stones and picturesque panels devoted to Russian folklore themes. The exposition displays also a four-leaved screen decorated with summer, winter, autumn and spring sceneries and made on the basis of his sketches.

See: V. Darkevich, "The Monastery of St. Sergiy, Science in Russia, No. 2, 2000.--Ed.

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The Fedoskino varnished miniature also brilliantly characterizes Russian style. This trade originated in the late 18th century as a small manufactory dealing with production of helmet peaks for the Russian army, which was owned by the merchant Pyotr Korobov. In Germany in 1795 he became interested in a related trade, i.e. tobacco boxes, papier-mâché caskets from the varnishing factory owned by Johann Heinrich Stobwasser (city of Braunschweig) decorated with elegant painting; he purchased lacquers and paints from his German colleague, and even invited a number of his craftsmen to his company.

He managed to set up his business and later on even expanded the production line. Soon a number of shops started selling cigarette cases, boxes, cigar cases, powder boxes, matchbox holders, even chess tables, etc. covered with varnished picturesque images of scenes from everyday life, portraits, still life and various ornaments. The quality of articles improved as well as the artistic level of miniatures and skill of painters, who developed their own unique methods. At first painters made in oil a general sketch, then a more detailed sketch, glazing (image modeling by transparent emulsions) and, finally, glaring for making compositions more animated and voluminous. Sometimes prior to painting craftsmen applied a light reflecting material to a future picture such as metal powder, gold leaf, pattern made from foil pieces or pearl insertions.

The said trade reached its height in the mid-19th century, when Fedoskino chests, caskets, various boxes, album covers, tea-caddies, eyeglass cases, purses and Easter eggs met the requirements of the most demanding tastes and, moreover, became well-known not only in Russia but also in Europe. Many of them made in a different technique and decorated with portraits, scenes from everyday life, troikas with horsemen, tea parties, landscapes and historical pictures are widely represented in the exposition.

Back in the 18th-first half of the 19th centuries the shawls woven in the town of Pavlovsky Posad near Moscow were distinguished by a pattern of special beauty made by means of gold thread (formed by drawing, spinning, etc. from metal). But in the 1860s, there started production of printed woollen shawls, and a new style was gradually developing based on national traditions and characterized by fancy flower compositions with a wide range of colors against the white, black, red, dark blue and cherry-colored background. Skill of colorists and craftsmen, who manufactured the so-called printing plates (from such plates a design was reproduced on the cloth), played a significant role in the creation of such fanciful ornament. Moreover, a separate plate was needed for each color, and, as a result, their total number reached several dozens. All this richness of paints and designs reflects Russian style probably most clearly than other exhibits, as it is no secret that shawls from Pavlovsky Posad, loved by all representatives of the fair sex all over the world, are popular already for three centuries.


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