3 June 2015
MARK OF FABERGÉ BENEATH THE IMPERIAL WARRANT, MOSCOW, 1895–1908
Height of the bratina 19.7 cm, diameter of the tray 49.5 cm.
Provenance: Property of a lady, Christie’s, New York, 27 October 1992, lot 35.
Private Collection, USA.
Anonymous sale, Christie’s, New York, 24 April 2009, lot 192.
Comprising eight charkis and a bratina, each of tapering cylindrical form, enamelled with a band of polychrome shaded scrolling foliage inset with hardstone cabochons, against a gilt-stippled ground, the raised circular foot with a matching ornament; a tray with shaped moulded rim, with alternating panels of multicoloured shaded scrolling foliage set with hardstone cabochons, the centre with a well for the bowl, the ladle with prolonged handle and kovsh-shaped bowl, similarly decorated, in the original fitted wood case.
“Zzhenka” is the adopted Russian name for the popular European drink ‘punch’, which came to the Empire from Europe and quickly became a favourite. Most notably, it was one of the souvenirs brought to Russia from Paris by the brave and victorious hussars, who quickly turned it into a fashionable and cheerful festive essential.
The hussars, traditionally seen as buoyant and wealthy, could afford not only the expensive ingredients such as tea, but also the various exquisitely and richly decorated accessories; punch bowls, glasses and even whole sets, making them desirable gifts.
Whereas during wartime punch had been a warming and invigorating necessity for the hussars, drinking it and playing cards in peacetime became a way to escape the longing for the adventurous past.
According to the memoirs of contemporaries, famous poets, such as Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov, both the epitome of the 19th century pensive and daring Russian characters, were great fans of the fashionable new drink. By the1840s, it had almost become a traditional drink. By the end of the century drinking punch, especially in military circles, acquired the role of an almost symbolic ceremonial and formal ritual which gave rise to the production of many finely decorated vessels and punch sets.
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.