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By Ovchinnikov, Pavel (Russian, 1830-1888)
This wonderful beaker, wrought from plique-à-jour enamel and silver-gilt filigree wire, is by Pavel Ovchinnikov, one of the most celebrated silversmiths of the 19th Century.
This silver-gilt and plique-à-jour enamel beaker, raised by a pinched waist above a domed circular foot, is of tapering cylindrical form. The body of the beaker is formed from exquisitely wrought silver-gilt twisted filigree wire, the cells between the wire frame delicately infilled with transparent enamel in primary shades of yellow, blue, and red.
The plique-à-jour enamel work that ornaments the body of the beaker demonstrates a six-sided decorative scheme: three trefoil arched frames composed of white enamel beads contain assemblages of stylised foliate, floral, and geometrical motifs. Between these frames, the three open panels of the body contain figurative scenes: one contains a brilliant yellow firebird, the second a tropical bird, and the third, most distinctively, holds a standing male figure garbed in yellow robes, his right hand raised with a hammer and his left grasping some kind of tool. All of these figurative scenes are set over a background of scrolling arabesques formed of leaves and floral buds, all executed in enamel.
The base of the beaker is inscribed in Cyrillic ‘Made by P. Ovchinnikov and Sons’. Pavel Ovchinnikov, and the firm he founded with his sons, was one of the most important silversmiths working in Moscow in the latter 19th Century. This present piece is an exceptional example of his work.
Alexander von Solodkoff, Russian Gold and Silver, 1981, p. 62.
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