Ballet is one of the most beautiful art forms due to its visual, plastic, and musical aspects. Russian ballet developed from the XVIII century, but to the XX century it gained world recognition. S. Diaghilev was very famous figure of the fin-de-siecle epoch who organized the «Russian Seasons» in Paris and later headed the ballet company of the Ballets russes. The world-famous dancers A. Pavlov, V. Nizhinsky, T. Karsavina, I. Rubinshtein, M. Kshesinskaya took part in his performances.
There were both classical performances (for example, «Les Sylphides» by F. Chopin) and contemporary plays created by M. Ravel, I. Stravinsky and others. All these names are known to anyone who is interested in the history of culture.
The artists were also inspired by the beauty of the ballet art, the flexibility and plasticity of the dancers. Sculptor S. Sudbinin was the first artist in Russia who reflected the modern theater in porcelain. In 1913 he produced sculpture «Ballerina Karsavina in the role of Sylphide in the ballet» for the Imperial Porcelain Factory. The statuette was remarkable, it had one point of support and usually was executed in bisque porcelain. According to the researcher of Russian porcelain, T. Kudryavtseva, the image of the star of the Russian stage, the brilliant performer of the innovative ideas of M. Fokin, the statuette of T. Karsavina was the best work in his theatrical series. Sudbinin stopped the moment and depicted the flying silhouette of the ballerina.
Sculpture «Ballerina T. Karsavina in the role of Zobeida in the ballet «Shaherizada» was created by Dmitry Ivanov at the State Porcelain Factory in 1922. This statuette was replicated in different variations in 1950-60's, and it is still produced at the manufactory.
Sculptural watch stand «Odalisque with the Blackamoor»
Porcelain and ceramic workshop of the St.Petersburg School of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, 1912.
The author of the form and painting - sculptor A. Brusketti-Mitrokhina.
Date on round hole for watch: 1912
Porcelain, painted with colored glazes, gold.
Based on a comparative-stylistic analysis, signatures and technological features, it can be attributed to A. Brusketti-Mitrokhina, one of the most outstanding ceramist artists of the Silver Age. This sculptural work was performed in the porcelain and ceramic workshop of the School of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, where the artist worked in 1909-1915, it is a typical example of the artists’ style, her individual plastic manner. Antiquarian and museum community knows three variants of this watch stand, made by the author in the 1910s-1920s, two of them, signed with 1912, are in the collection of the State Hermitage and in a private collection, the third is also stored in private collection and signed with 1922.
Brusketti-Mitrokhina Alisa (1872, Romny (Poltava Province) - 1942, Leningrad) - ceramist, graphic artist, sculptor. She studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1892-1901) in two departments: painting and sculpture in classes of I. Levitan, V. Serov, K. Korovin, S. Volnukhin and P. Trubetskoy. Hence there is plasticity and grace, portrait and psychological depth in the works of Brusketti-Mitrokhina. Stroganov School gave to the artist a sense of decorativeness and understanding of the features of ceramics and ornamental styling. After graduation, Brusketti worked with M. Vrubel in the pottery workshop of S. Mamontov. In those years, Brusketti was strongly influenced by the great artist and always considered him as her teacher. In 1908 she moved to St. Petersburg and until 1915 she worked in the porcelain and ceramic workshop of the School of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, working in various ceramic materials: porcelain, faience, majolica. In 1910 she married the painter D. Mitrokhin.
In 1907-1910s. Brusketti-Mitrokhina created a «sculptural encyclopedia of Russian ballet». One of its pages is the composition of this watch stand, which depicts a scene from the Fokin’s ballet «Egyptian Nights» (1908-1909), staged at the Mariinsky Theater for music by Arensky and where the leading role was played by the great Anna Pavlova. In the composition, the heroine comes to the bank of the Nile with a pitcher of sacred water (the pitcher is depicted in the composition of 1922) and is waiting for her lover. Brusketti feels the psychology of the Fokin’s ballet and creates an expressive image. The sculptural image of Berenika in a costume of odalisque is extraordinarily captivating, erotic.
In these years A. Pavlova shone in many performances on the eastern theme: in the ballet «Pharaoh's Daughter»" (1907) she danced in an oriental costume without a corset with a half-naked breast, in the play «Egyptian Nights», in his French version of «Cleopatra», in «Scheherazade».
Technological features: porcelain mass of gray color (which was typical for the handicraft production of the ceramic workshop of the School of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts), glazes, pigments, gold. The color palette is close to majolica, with blue, green, purple tones. Sculpture is fashioned in soft material by the method of a warm-up.
The sculptural watch stand «Odalisque with the Blackamoor» is the rarest artistic example of the Silver Age ceramic sculpture with its theatricality and exoticism. Along with the masterpieces of M. Vrubel, A. Golovin, N. Andreev, the works of A. Brusketti-Mitrokhina bears the charm and spirit of the epoch.
The work undoubtedly has an exceptional historical and artistic significance and is of great interest to the museum community and collectors.
The expert: T. Astrakhantseva