This matching pair of Imperial period Kovsches (also known as Kovshes) was produced by the atelier of Maria Semenova at the turn of the 20th Century. Each Kovsch is made of 875 grade silver; the silver has been silver-gilt on the interior, base, and underside of the handle of each Kovsch. Strikingly, the applied ropework ornament that bounds the lip of each Kovsch, as well as the rope twist cloison wire that encompasses the beautiful enamel panels on the exterior surface, have also been silver-gilt.
The body of each Kovsch is of traditional form, featuring a prominently raised and beaked prow and a hooked handle. The exterior of each Kovsch is defined by the shaded polychrome cloisonné enamelwork that so delicately and beautifully ornaments the surface. The cloisons have been wrought into a variety of foliate and floral motifs, all infilled with exquisitely painted enamel in variegated shades of blue, green, pink, and orange, as well as Semonova’s distinctive violet tones. The sides of the handle of each Kovsch, as well as the band above the bases, feature sequences of turquoise blue enamel beads. All the cloisonné enamelwork that ornaments the surface of each Kovsch is set above a dappled silver-gilt ground.
The underside of each Kovsch is marked with ‘84’, which designates 875 grade silver, the Cyrillic mark ‘MC’ for Semenova, as well as several other marks, including ‘E.W.’ in a Latin typeface.
Maria Semenova, the daughter of the silversmith Wasilij Semenov, inherited her father's factory upon his death in 1896. The works produced in her factory between 1896 and 1914 are preeminent examples of the artisanship of this period. Her factory is known today for its production of Kovsches, of which this pair contains two wonderful examples. Her works are noted for their traditional style and the use of violet tones, two attributes seen in these superb pieces.