Russian Enamel



    Russia, Moscow (?)

    Late 17th – first half of the 18th centuries

    Silver; painted enamel, filigree, gold-plating

    Height 5.7 cm; diameter - 15.5 cm


    Round deep bowl on a ring shaped tray. Medallions decorate the external and internal surfaces with enamelled paintings featuring scenes from the short novel Shemyaka’s court (the same as Kangaroo court) which was popular in the last quarter of the 17th century. The content is rendered in 12 imprints (six on each side). Enamel image of floral motif is in the center. Floral pattern is on the bottom. The smaller imprints with the images of camel, lion, elephant, unicorn, eagle and Pegasus that symbolize moral values and correspond to the miniatures revealing the content of a short novel are inside the bowl between the main medallions. Foliage ornament is between the medallions.

    The story of Shemyaka’s Court is a satirical work, preserved in the manuscripts of the late 17-18th centuries. The researchers attribute its appearance in the Russian literature to the 1660s assuming from the realities of judicial practice mentioned in the text. The work consists of three anecdotal episodes in which the unjust judge Shemyaka makes much-unexpected verdicts, hoping to get a bribe. From the manuscripts, the story went to the press. Twelve pictures on the plot of Shemyaka’s Court with the text printed by D. Rovinsky were engraved at the Akhmetevsky factory in the first half of the 18th century. Cheap popular prints were repeated five times. The last edition with a censorial note was printed in 1839.