07.03.2017

Photo album dedicated to March 8 holiday: "The amazing world of enamel by Princess Maria Tenisheva"

On March 8, the day of the spring holiday we publish a story about an amazing woman - Maria Klavdievna Tenisheva, a Russian enamel artist, founder of a unique art-manufactural workshop, a collector, philanthropist and teacher.

The Princess Maria Tenisheva activities in the estate of Talashkino that she acquired in 1893 brought her the greatest fame. Talashkino became an important center of Russian artistic life. Prominent representatives of the national culture - S. Diaghilev, I. Stravinsky and F. Chalyapin visited this place. The famous artists such as S. Malyutin, I. Repin, M. Vrubel and N. Roerich lived and worked there for a long time. Maria Tenisheva organized art workshops (carpentry, ceramic and embroidery) where the artists created various decorative and applied art objects in Neo-Russian style.

A unique school was opened in Flenovo (a village near Talashkino) that Tenisheva bought in 1894. The school existed for two decades. The peasants’ children were taught to read, write and count there and got the basic agricultural knowledge as well. They were also taught the art of pottery and ceramics, painting, embroidery and playing Russian folk instruments. Later Princess Tenisheva opened a free drawing school in St. Petersburg. It existed from 1894 to 1904.

 Maria Tenisheva wrote about the importance of the affordable and versatile education, regardless of social stratum and origin: "... I firmly believe that anyone can find application and his own way. In case the person is not successful in sciences – he should try himself in something else. It is necessary to notice, examine a person’s addictions and to encourage them, to direct him to something suitable. This was the way I treated my scholars... It was the way for the peasants’ children to become excellent woodcarvers, painters, ceramists...” It should be noted, that the art items produced in Talashkino’ workshops were very popular not only in pre-revolutionary Russia, but were sold successfully in Europe for several decades.

 Certainly, Princess Tenisheva was an excellent organizer and teacher; she was able to gather and join the elite representatives of artistic life. At the same time, she herself had a remarkable talent. She achieved great success in the enamel art, having received recognition in Europe. Tenisheva called the art of enamel over metal "The most wonderful expression of human genius". She was the acknowledged leader in of so-called "opaque" enamel art. Living in Paris, carrying out numerous experiments together with the enamel artist Jacquin Maria Tenisheva managed to receive a new palette of hollow polychromic impasto enamels. Subsequently she managed to increase the palette up to three hundred shades.

 Freely combining enamel with wood, metal, bone and leather, she was looking for new expressive forms and her own artistic style. A variety of decorative objects (candlesticks, chests, boxes, etc.), made by Maria Tenisheva, received worldwide recognition and were exhibited in Paris, Rome, London, Brussels, Prague, winning the highest awards everywhere.
The collection of our Museum presents a number of iconic works by Maria Tenisheva, including items from the original set of seven figures, which Nicolay Roerich called "The Enchanted Beasts". Small volumetric bronze figurines were cast in Paris workshop in 1908 in the technique of "cire perdue" and covered with a champlevé enamel of various shades. N. Roerich wrote in his article "The Enchanted Beasts (enamel by Princess Maria Tenisheva)," "... Tenisheva wanted to conquer the old idol hearth area with the ancient skill. She desired to call to life the forgotten talismans sent by the Goddess of prosperity to protect a human person's house. In this set of stylized forms one can feel the dreams of the antique talismans, not the work of an artist-animalist".