26 November 2014
MARK OF IVAN KHLEBNIKOV IN CYRILLIC, MOSCOW, 1908–1917, 88 STANDARD
9 by 6 cm.
Rectangular with hinged lid, the body decorated in shaded polychrome enamels with stylised flowers and geometric motifs, the lid centered with a shaped reserve enamelled en plein with a scene after Konstantin Makovsky’s painting (1883) A Boyar Wedding Feast, gilt interior.
Late 19th century Russian art was marked by an interest in Old Russia, its folklore, crafts and traditions. This tendency, in conjunction with the growing influence of Art Nouveau, led to the appearance of new and varied forms, combinations of different materials and techniques and an enrichment of the colour palette — a style known as neo-Russian.
Ivan Khlebnikov was one of the most prominent silversmiths of the time, and famous for creating unique pieces of outstanding artistic quality in this neo-Russian style. His firm was established in 1871 and received the Imperial warrant soon afterwards, his name first attracted significant public attention at the World Exhibition in Vienna, 1873.
The paintings of contemporary Russian artists, such as Konstantin Makovsky and Victor Vasnetsov, were dedicated to Russian history and folklore, with their scenes of Russian boyars and bogatyrs being reproduced by master Jewellers. Makovsky’s 1883 painting A Boyar Wedding Feast, which is executed in en plein enamel on the lid of the present lot, is a perfect example of this integration of one masterpiece with another. The scene, set in a traditional 17th century boyar home, depicts the moment when the bridal couple, encouraged by their guests, are about to kiss, a wholly recognizable Russian tradition. The original painting is now in the collection of the Hillwood Museum in the United States, where one can also find two similar pieces, a jewellery box and a kovsh, decorated with en plein enamels after Makovsky, by Feodor Rückert.
The use of the two most difficult and complex enamelling techniques of cloisonné and en plein, where the different colours must be fired at different temperatures, turns pieces such as the present lot into real treasures. Although such exceptionally decorative works are not unknown to the art market, they remain quite rare and therefore highly sought after by collectors.
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.