• Galerie Popoff: An Enduring Pa auction at Christies

    Sale 7677

    Galerie Popoff: An Enduring Passion for Russian Art

    12 - 13 October 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 252



    Price Realised  


    Tverskaia province, Russia, late 18th century
    Circular, of vertical tubular form, the red velvet ground embroidered with gilt and silver metal thread and embellished with paste chips set with various colour backings, front adorned with a white and yellow glass bead ruffled fringe, lined with cream printed cotton overlaid with sheer conservation gauze
    5½ in. (14 cm.) high

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    A popular form, the 'Golovka' was produced well into the 19th century, particularly in the Ostashkovskii uezd; see L. V. Efimova et al., Kostium v Rossii iz sobraniia GIM, Moscow, 2000, illustrated p. 58, no. 64.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Embroidery has been at the heart of Russian court, domestic and
    ecclesiastic traditions for centuries.

    In most large towns, prior to the 16th century, monasteries and convents were centres of weaving and embroidery, working in the
    Byzantine tradition. Even icon painters were involved in producing
    printed cottons of the kind that often line kokoshniki (see lot 260)
    Designs were drawn from various traditions, including the middle east, Turkey, Persia and Italy.

    By the 17th century, embroidery was not only used for ecclesiastical
    vestments but had become an integral part of the Russian noblewoman's
    wardrobe. Indeed, noble households began to have needlework studios
    which produced magnificent hangings and embroideries for the Church.
    Domestically, gold, sequins, pearls and silks were used as borders and trimmings, and were continued to be used into the 20th century. It was in the 17th century that the kokoshnik became important as a symbol of a married woman's status, her origins and her wealth. With a plentiful supply of fresh water pearls and the availability to the well-to-do of Oriental pearls and silks, kokoshniki became the showcase for
    needlework skills of the highest order. Embroideries became so valuable and precious that they began to figure in wills and testaments and were handed down from mother to daughter.

    With the edict from Peter the Great in the 17th century that the court should wear European style dress, that is to say a hooped skirt and low cut bodice for the ladies and a suit consisting of a long coat (kaftan), breeches and waistcoat for the gentlemen (see lot 262), a division between national and court dress was established. National
    costume was worn by bourgeois wives, merchants' wives and the
    well-heeled in the shape of the kokoshnik, the sarafan and a festive scarf for formal occasions. These garments not only showed the wealth of the wearer, they also showed her regional roots as each area had its own characteristic patterns and traditions.

    This rich vocabulary is recorded in the many portraits of both noble
    and bourgeois women in their national dress. To the contemporary
    viewer, the dress spoke volumes. The crescent-shaped kokoshnik told
    the viewer that the sitter came from Central Russia (see lot 262) the
    velvet conical pill box headdress told of Moscow Province (lot 255) and ladies of Tver Province in unfeasibly frilly and festooned caps were
    unmistakeable. This collection of scarves, sarafan and kokoshniki can
    therefore take the modern connoisseur straight back into history.