Porcelain was invented a one and a half thousand years ago in China, and up to the 18th century it remained extremely expensive, desired by all the Western aristocracy. For many centuries Europeans have tried to find out the secret of its production, and only in the Age of Enlightenment it was possible to find a "recipe" for porcelain production. Eastern objects attracted the Europeans with its originality, difference from Western culture. At the same time there was an aspiration to have its own, fashionable objects of art that correspond to the needs of the time. The XVIII century gave Europe a lot of discoveries, including the secret of the porcelain mass. One after another, porcelain factories were opened in Germany, France, the Czech Republic and in Russia. The Imperial Porcelain Factory was founded in 1744 by the order of Elizabeth Petrovna with the participation of M. Lomonosov and D. Vinogradov.
The flourishing of the porcelain factory began at the end of the XVIIIth century, its products entered the world market and became appreciated in all European countries.
Sevres's influence is traced in porcelain of the Catherine's era. With Paul Russian artistic tradition is completely lost, the production takes a French character. The victory in the War of 1812 gave birth to the "golden age" of the Russian culture. National principle is seen in the paintings of the services and in the statuettes produced in this period.
In the middle of the XIX ctntury the painting department was divided into several workshops - one of them specialized in flower paintings, the others - in historical subjects, portraits, plot painting. The era of Nicholas I is marked by a new fashionable trend, which is commonly called «historicism». Artists turn to the national heritage - there are outstanding objects in Russian style made in this period.
In the era of Alexander II and Alexander III, interest in the products of the porcelain factory is lost, court orders are becoming rare. Nevertheless, experiments in production do not end: for example, a fashionable technique «pâte sur pâte» becomes popular in the factory.
The tradition of accepting «offerings for Christmas» and making annual orders for porcelain by the imperial family сontinues with Nicholas II. The artistic tradition undergoes changes, including the international modernist style and national romanticism with Russian motifs. This involves technical and technological experiments. For example, some objects are made in the technique of «translucide», decorated with a slotted pattern with a transparent glaze. This technique imitates the traditional Chinese tradition, which was used in the XVIII century.
During the First World War, the porcelain factory serves the needs of wartime, and after the revolutions of 1917 the factory’s policy passes on to new artistic and ideological tasks.
Imperial Porcelain Factory
Model 1896, issue 1897
Sculptor A. Timus
Painter E. Suliman-Grudzinsky
Green underglaze brand: NII under the crown 1987
H = 26 cm
It is known from the archival documents of the Imperial Porcelain Factory that three jars of the «big fire» (200 rubles each) were performed for the Christmas holiday. One jug was intended for the emperor, and two for the empress Maria Feodorovna.
Other jugs on the lists are not mentioned, therefore, the jug "Sirin" is one of the three named above and was presented to either emperor Nicholas II or empress Maria Feodorovna.
«Pricelist» for 1897 were not preserved completely, but the painting of the pitcher is attributed to the artist E. Suliman-Grudzinsky, who was the only factory artist in 1897 who worked in underglaze technology.
The creation of the model is dated 1896 according to the document "Invalid statements to picturesque porcelain things" for November 1896, from which it follows that the sculptor A. Timus made one jug worth 200 rubles. The price of 200 rubles for all mentioned jugs indicates that they were executed on the same model.
In 1914, the factory repeated A. Timus's works according to old samples, among them was a white jug made according to the model of 1896.
The appearance of the jug with the stamp of 1897 on the antique market allows to make an important adjustment to the chronology of the sculptor's work.
On the basis of a visual art study and the interpretation of the brand, it was established that the jug «Sirin» made according to the model of A. Timus and painted by E. Suliman-Grudzinsky, is a genuine work of the Imperial Porcelain Factory of 1897 and has a great historical, cultural and artistic significance.
Art critic N. Petrova