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11 May – 9 September 2012

Vase, View of Vasilyevsky Island. 2008. Decoration by N. J. Bolshakova. From after a piece from the first half of the 19th c. by J. F. Troickij

The St. Petersburg Imperial Porcelain Factory is known as the “crown of Russian culture” and “one of the country’s rarest art treasures”. For over 250 years its activities have been an inseparable part of Russian history, and its production – artistic porcelain – is a unique “porcelain chronicle” of the Palmyra of the North. Russian porcelain masterpieces, created by the golden hands of the manufactory’s masters, artists and sculptors are exhibited in the world’s greatest museums. Collectors vie for their possession at prestigious Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions.

During the reign of Catherine II, the status of the Porcelain Manufactory, established in 1744, changed. From 1765 the enterprise was already called the Imperial Porcelain Factory (it’s title changed another two times until 2005 when the original title was once again adopted), and its production had for already more than 150 years decorated the interiors of the Romanov estates, creating universal intrigue for its masterful work, the complexity of the pieces and their refinement. After the 1917 Revolution, the factory’s laboratory created a new, Soviet porcelain, which for decades set the standards for high artistic quality.

With the change in times, the enterprise started reviving the elite porcelain dedicated to interior and celebratory dining setting decoration of its factoring traditions. This porcelain once again took its place as a symbol of material wealth and stability, luxury and prestige. It is sought after by collectors and constitutes a significant part of the State Gift Fund. Highly qualified masters took on the major task of recreating the most famous works from the 18th–20th centuries. Today they can be seen in the factory’s museum, which has become a part of the Hermitage Museum. Artistic, figurative, and having adopted hundred-year-old nurtured master skills, Russian artistic porcelain bearing the stamp of “Imperial Porcelain” resurrects the grandeur and glory of marvellous St. Petersburg.

Around 200 exhibits from the Imperial Porcelain Factory are presented in the halls of the Museum of the Radvilas Palace, created using the finest traditions of the St. Petersburg porcelain school. The collection being exhibited features both opulent examples of tsarist Russian porcelain art, such as dinner service ensembles, elegant vases and sculptures that adorned the palace rooms and offices of Russian royalty, as well as avant garde and so-called agitational art works that proclaimed the country’s revolutionary changes.

Today the Imperial Porcelain Factory is one of but a few such enterprises in the world, in which, as in earlier times, a team of faithful porcelain artists and sculptors work. They create not only samples of serial production or special commissions, but also amazing original pieces. The creative collective which has a firm grasp of all the vagaries and potentials of porcelain as a material astounds all with their work that has no analogue in contemporary porcelain art.



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