25 March 2015
A Porcelain Figurine of Tsar Nicholas I
SIPYAGIN MANUFACTORY, ELIZAVETINO, 1850–1855
Height 25.5 cm.
with dark brown overglaze manufactory mark
Following the example of European manufacturers, Russian porcelain factories in the mid-19th century began to produce inexpensive porcelain and ceramic souvenir items depicting Russian tsars and prominent political figures. The simple lubok-like representation of Tsar Nicholas I is from this tradition.
The “larger than life” nature of these works made them very popular, and utilitarian features often gave them extra attraction: the State Hermitage collection includes figurines of Alexander III, Nicholas II and President Carnot of France, executed in a similar manner and on their verso equipped with a special storage box for various small objects. Ceramic tobacco pipes with sculpted portraits of presidents and emperors are part of the same family of products. These unpretentious souvenirs, which were enthusiastically developed by Russian and European makers of porcelain, convey the nature of their subjects through minimal, simplified features of face and clothing, but at the same time display the inexhaustible ingenuity and rich talent of the porcelain makers, who used official portraits of the most important statesmen of their time to create curiosities that combine artistry with practical use.
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.