5 June 2019 Important Russian Art Auctions, at Asia House

5 June 2019

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

A Porcelain Dessert Plate from the Dowry Service of Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna  


A Porcelain Dessert Plate from the Dowry Service of Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna  

10,000–15,000 GBP

Diameter 23.5 cm.

Circular, with scalloped gilt rim, the cavetto painted with a view of the Bolshoi Theatre, St Petersburg, within gilt band, the border decorated with gilt foliate scrollwork on a sky blue ground, the reverse titled “Theatre Bolchoi”, signed “V Stoletov”, with a blue Imperial cypher for Nicholas I and dated 1844.

Provenance: The offered plates were part of an extensive dowry of Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna (1825–1844) for her wedding in 1844 to Frederick William, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (1820–1884).
Collection of Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel after Alexandra’s death.
Important private collection, Europe.

Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna was the fourth child of Nicholas I and Alexandra Feodorovna and the first wife of Prince Frederick William of Hesse-Kassel. She was born in Tsarskoye Selo in 1825 and was affectionally known as “Adini”. Prince Frederick and Adini fell in love during his visit to St Petersburg in winter of 1843 and their engagement was announced on 28 June 1843. Unfortunately, Adini became ill with tuberculosis before her wedding and passed away shortly afterwards never having left Russia for her new home. At the insistence of the Emperor Nicholas I and the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the Dowry, which had already been shipped to Grand Duchy of Hesse, remained there at the disposal of the Prince.

Related literature: For plates from the same service, see exhibition catalogue, St. Petersburg um 1800. Ein goldenes Zeitalter des russischen Zarenreichs. Meisterwerke und authentische Zeugnisse der Zeit aus der Staatlichen Ermitage, Leningrad, Recklingshausen, Aurel Bongers Verlag, 1990, p. 160.
Sankt-Peterburg. Portret goroda i gorozhan, St Petersburg, Palace Editions, 2003, p. 86, Nos. 138 and 140.

The order for the porcelain dessert plates forming part of the Dowry of Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna was placed on 28 July 1843, a month after the official announcement of her engagement to Prince Frederick William of Hesse-Kassel. On 9 August the specific requirements of the Imperial commission were finalised: “to produce exactly the same number of dessert plates as for Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna [...] must not deviate from the agreed form and patterns.”

The order specified that 48 plates with painted decoration depicting views of St. Petersburg should be copied from the lithographs produced by Ferdinand Victor Perrot (1808–1841). However, that proved to be problematic, since only twelve such lithographs were published and it was “quite difficult to procure the necessary number of appealing views of St. Petersburg”, so Imperial permission was obtained to reproduce views from different sources.

Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.