Exhibit in detail. Casket. Imperial Stroganov College
Today our traditional column "Exhibit in Detail" features the casket created by the students of one of the first educational institutions of art-industrial profile – the Imperial Stroganov Art Industrial College.
The College was founded in Moscow in October 1825 by the famous collector and patron of arts and crafts Count S. Stroganov and was originally named "School of drawing in relation to arts and crafts".
The appearance of the School, patterned after the Paris "Ecole du dessin", the purpose of which was "to give craftsmen, artisans and tradesmen the opportunity to improve their products with the help of science and art", was caused by the demands of the national culture and the country socio-economic development at that time, when traditional artistic crafts began to be replaced by industrial production. The main task of the School was to improve the quality of the Russian art industry products, to create the national style, to move away from imitating foreign masters whose works filled the Russian market at that time.
According to S. Stroganov, it was possible to change the situation in the Russian art industry and get rid of the foreign goods domination on the domestic market only by improving the quality of our own products. Thus, it was necessary to educate domestic draughtsmen that would work for national production; besides, their training should start from a young age.
In 1843, Count S. Stroganov hanged over the School to the state. It was transformed into the Second Drawing School. In 1860, it was merged with the First Drawing School into the Stroganov School of Technical Drawing. Additionally weaving, printing, modelling, painting and lithographic workshops were opened, and later, circa 1867, ceramics workshop was opened.
The casket, about which today we are narrating in the column "Exhibit in detail", is decorated with enamel over filigree* in the stylistics of the 17th century. The essence of this method is that an ornament (usually floral or geometric) is soldered onto a metal surface from twisted gold (silver or copper) wire. The filigree wire is used to create cells on the surface, each of which is then completely filled with multi-coloured enamel. The product is then burned. After burning, the enamel layer "shrinks" and settles below the edges of the cell. Since the surface of the product is uneven, it is not polished after burning so as not to damage the pattern. Those differences – non-polishing and protruding partitions characterise filigree enamel. Usually the enamel is filled and burned in the cells once. But sometimes to make the image more decorative in some cells the enamel may be fused in several steps. Then the enamel surface becomes bumpy, and in those places where the enamel protrudes above the filigree wire, the effect of beads inclusion is obtained.
This technique has been known since the end of the 13th century, when Italian artisans began to use it. Soon enamel over filigree technique spread throughout Europe. It became especially popular in the 15th century Hungary. In Moscovia this technique was known since the 16th century. Since the end of the 17th century in Russia filigree was often combined with the technique of painted enamels – images in filigree cells were additionally painted with brushes. Filigree enamel was used to decorate crockery, jewellery, chests, caskets, tableware, religious items, etc. A new loop of interest in this technique, which required great accuracy and concentration, arose in the second half of the 19th century, when the famous "Russian style" emerged. At that time, many workshops were engaged in enamel over filigree technique.
This casket can be dated 1913 and attributed to exclusive custom-made, presentation items of the Imperial Stroganov School, probably made according to a sketch by Princess M. Tenisheva, and associated with the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov House.
Fedunov S. Art metal of the Imperial Stroganov School of the early 20th century // Antiques, art objects and collectibles. М., 2008. 1-2 (54). p. 4-21