SHOWCASE 18. GOLD- AND SILVERWARE OF THE LAST QUARTER OF THE 18TH - FIRST THIRD OF THE 19TH CENTURY

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Showcase 18. Gold- and silverware of the last quarter of the 18th - first third of the 19th century

The rococo style did not predominate for long in Russia. By the 1770s, whimsical Rocaille and sumptuous asymmetrical ornament were being replaced by flower garlands, laurel and oak branches, symmetrical patterns executed in casting and low-relief techniques, characteristic of classicism. A new stylistic tendency was based on interest in classical style and aroused due to the excavations and archaeological finds at Herculaneum (1719) and Pompeii (1748). Showcase 18 represents exhibits marked by the renewal of classical forms, motifs and subjects.

The Kremlin Museums possess precious works of art by renowned Moscow makers A. Ratkov, C. Muller, F. Seguin, and Petersburg artists H. Unger, H. Eckert, G. Ador and others. By combining matt and glossy/polished precious metals, repousse or engraved ornament and smooth background, classical forms and pure colours, the craftsmen skilfully brought out the texture and natural beauty of the metals. Ornamentation in the period consists of laconic symmetrical designs of geometrical forms, decorated with precious stones, as well as elements which imitate patterns of architectural orders or shaped as figures, animals and plants.

In the second half of the 18th century, jewellery making and techniques of art of metal and stone work were developed: polychrome enamel was being replaced by two-colour enamel in two cold shades (known as grisaille), artistic casting of gold, silver and platinum became widespread, new forms and shapes of utensils and tableware came into fashion. A great number of samovars, snuff-boxes, decorated with enamel miniatures, sugar bowls, tea-strainers etc. were executed. The apparent simplicity of objects executed in a classical style in no way affected their material value. Jewellers used precious and semi-precious stones for ornamentation as well as combinations on the metal surface.

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