Nikolsko-Pestrovsky Bakhmetev plant

The history

Nikolsko-Pestrovsky Bakhmetev plant was built in 1764 by the second major Alexei Ivanovich Bakhmetev near the villages of Nikolskoye and Pestrovka of the Gorodishchensky district of the Penza province under the permission of the Empress Catherine II, dated August 3, 1763. In 1773, during the uprising of Emelyan Pugachev, the enterprise was destroyed, but by 1775, it was restored anew. The Bakhmetev family managed the plant until 1884, when, under a bequest, the nephew of the last owner Prince Alexander Dmitrievich Obolensky became the new managing director the enterprise. He renamed it to Nikolsko-Bakhmetev Crystal plant and headed it until 1917.

For two and a half centuries, the Bakhmetev plant was one of the largest private enterprises in Russia, accomplishing the orders of the highest Court and aristocracy. The produced items were not inferior to those that were created at the Imperial Glass Factory. In the 1760’s, shortly after its foundation, the Bakhmetev plant began producing products of tinted glass (azure, violet, green) following the Imperial Glass Factory example. At the turn of the 18th-19th centuries, it produced items from milky glass, imitating expensive china, and at the beginning of the 19th, it produced crystal items. From 1795 to 1822 Alexander Vershinin, a serf peasant was considered to be the master artisan who made products from tinted, colorless glass and crystal. In 1807, in St. Petersburg, he was granted gold watch from Emperor Alexander I for the crystal set made for the highest Court. It is considered the first version of the so-called “Bakhmetev” set used as a parade one in the Winter Palace, Catherine Palace, Yelagin Palace, The Peterhof and Kremlin palaces. The signature works of A. Vershinin are also known - these are the portraits of the Patriotic War of 1812 heroes in medallions on the so-called “memorable” items (glasses and cups) and double-walled glasses with landscapes made of natural materials inside, between the walls.

In the first half of the 19th century, new types of tinted glass were developed at the Bakhmetev plant - transparent and opaque (the so-called “jammed”) - distinguished by wide color range (scarlet, turquoise, cobalt, green, aquamarine, manganese, pink and black). Crystal objects became tinted as well - scarlet, blue, green and opal. In the second quarter of the 19th century, a large number of various products were manufactured from multilayered glass with flashed glass onlays as well as from opaque glass that imitated stone. They were decorated with the varied types of decor - filigree (“Venetian thread”) beginning from the 1820’s, polychrome painting and gilding (from the 1820’s), engraving (from the second quarter of the 19th century), sulfides (from 1841) and decalcomania (from the 1850’s).

The production of table crystal and glass that comprised the major part of the so-called "Price list", occupied an important place in the assortment in the second half of the 19th century.

Having its own bronze casting department for manufacturing molds (although foreign ones were used as well), the plant occupied the leading position in the production of various “embossed” items pressed on hand-operated machines.

At the turn of the 19th-20th centuries in addition to the production of items with “traditional” decor in the form of filigree, engraving or flashed glass, awarded with large Gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900, innovative products were created. For example, those that were decorated in crackle technique and deep engraving.

Throughout the 19th century, the Bakhmetev plant was a participant in the All-Russian artistic and industrial exhibitions, where more than once it was awarded medals and the highest state award - the right to depict its brand with a state emblem on its products and signs. The company won the Grand Prix and the Grand Gold Medal at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900. The products were sold not only in the major cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg) and at the fairs, but in the countries of the Middle East - Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, as well.

After the October Revolution of 1917 and the death of Prince Alexander Dmitrievich Obolensky, the Nikolsko-Bakhmetev Crystal plant passed on to his eldest son, Dmitry Alexandrovich Obolensky. The employers’ General meeting elected him for life director in January 1918. Since 1921, the plant was renamed "The Red Giant" and was the largest glass industry enterprise during the Soviet period, producing "the high-quality" glassware and executing highly artistic orders.

Thus, closely collaborating with the sculptor Vera Mukhina, according to her project, in 1938-1939, the Kremlin crystal set was created at the enterprise. In 2007, the major part of the giant plant ceased to exist, and a small part - the experimental workshop - was sold to a private person, receiving the name "Bakhmetevskaya Artel", which currently produces copies of crystal products of the 18-19th centuries.

Ref: Polyashova O.M. Russian glass of the 19th - early 20th century from the Collection of the All-Russian Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art. M., 2014; Asharina N.A. Russian glass of the 17th - early 20th century. M., 1998; Bakhmetev. Admission mode:

Exhibits in the Museum Collection