Announcement: Lecture "The Imperial court suppliers in the museum exposition
On January 20 at 18:00, on our traditional lecture day, we invite you to the lecture “The Imperial court suppliers in the museum Collection exposition".
As part of the lecture, you will be acquainted with the work of prominent artisans that were had an honorable degree of "The Imperial Court Supplier". These are the firms of Karl Bolin, Pavel Ovchinnikov, Ignatiy Sazikov, Carl Faberge and others, which have gone down in the history of jewelry and left their indelible mark on the arts and crafts. Their precious masterpieces adorned the imperial palaces and residences, complemented the images of aristocrats with luxurious personal items.
The magnificence and splendor of Russian Imperial Court always amazed European travelers. Memoirists-foreigners all as one, describing the brilliance of the Imperial Court, noted an important part of a truly magnificant spectacle - a huge amount of jewelry that adorned courtiers and state dignitaries. This brilliance was ensured by the tireless work of generations of jewelers who supplied the Russian elite with high-class jewelry.
The most privileged part of the community of jewelers were those that worked for the Imperial House in general and, especially, for the Imperial family. The community of these jewelers was never wide, and there was a constant race for orders from the Imperial family members. The result of this struggle was often the title of Court Supplier. Interestingly that from the beginning of Nicholas I reign, three appraisers "without pay" served in the Cabinet. These appraisers were actually court jewelers, having the right to depict the State Emblem on their signboards. In 1856, Alexander II introduced the honorary title "The Imperial Court and the Grand Dukes’ Courts Supplier", approved the regulations and the type of sign.
The lists of court suppliers were updated at the beginning of each reign. At the same time, those who were enlisted as suppliers of the Tsarevich automatically changed their status, becoming suppliers of the Emperor. Empresses also updated their list of suppliers. There were some shifts among jewelers as well. As a rule, this was associated with the death of one of the jewelers. Since the title of supplier was granted not to a firm, but to an individual, the heirs had to try themselves, supplying jewelry to the Imperial Court. These could also be new names, which, as a result of hard-earned race, broke into the clip of court jewelers.
There were also geographical nuances. For example, Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich lived in the Caucasus for almost two decades. A small trace of this biographical zigzag was the appearance of his personal jewelers from Tiflis and Baku.
The last list of Imperial Court suppliers was compiled at the beginning of 1915. In total, the names of 32 jewelers* were mentioned in this list. Seventeen of those jewellers were foreigners. The selection of foreign jewelers was caused both by dynastic and political preferences of Russian monarchs and by their relatives.
* In this List, the name of C. Faberge was mentioned twice, first as a jeweler, and then as a court jeweler. Therefore, we are actually talking about 31 jewelers in the list of 1915. When evaluating the position “by country”, French jewelers (6 people) were in the first place in this List, English jewelers were in the second place (5 people). German and Danish jewelers (3 people each) shared the third place. There were 13 Russian jewelers on the List.
Ref.: Zimin Igor Viktorovich, Sokolov Alexander Rostislavovich. Publisher: Tsentrpoligraph, 2021 Series: The 400th Anniversary of the Romanov House