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    Sale 7682

    IMPERIAL DESIGN From Stockholm to St Petersburg

    25 November 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 1

    A RUSSIAN ORMOLU AND COBALT-BLUE CUT-GLASS VASE

    CIRCA 1830, ATTRIBUTED TO THE IMPERIAL GLASS FACTORY, ST. PETERSBURG

    Price Realised  

    A RUSSIAN ORMOLU AND COBALT-BLUE CUT-GLASS VASE
    CIRCA 1830, ATTRIBUTED TO THE IMPERIAL GLASS FACTORY, ST. PETERSBURG
    Of circular flared shape, decorated with a star-filled trellis pattern, surmounted by a palmette-cast rim and flanked by foliate-wrapped handles, the circular spreading foot on a square plinth base
    8¾ in. (22 cm.) high


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    One of the foremost specialities of the Imperial Glass Factory in St. Petersburg was the production of vibrantly-coloured glass, the formula for which had been found by the eminent scientist Mikhail Lomonosov (1711-1765) around 1750 (N. Asharina et. al., Russian Glass, Moscow, 1990, p. 22). During the first half of the 19th Century, these coloured glass pieces were decorated with intricate designs finely cut into the glass. An important position at the Imperial Glass Factory was that of artistic director or 'inventor', generally filled by prominent Russian artists and architects, who masterminded the production of the workshops and provided designs to the glass-blowers and cutters, but also to the bronze-workers, who executed mounts for vases, bowls and tazze. Jean Thomas de Thomon held this position from 1804 to 1813, Karl Rossi from 1813 to 1819 and Ivan Ivanov from 1819 to 1848. The present vase was almost certainly created under the latter's tenure (A. Gaydamak, Russian Empire, Moscow, 2000, p. 90).
    Ivanov was probably also responsible for the design of a closely related vase decorated with horizontal cobalt blue bands, diamond-cut bands in two sizes and very similar ormolu foot, which was executed in the Imperial Glass Factory around 1830 (N. Thon ed., St. Petersburg um 1800, Recklinghausen, 1990, no. 343).

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    Pre-Lot Text

    IMPERIAL DESIGN: Treasures from Russia and Sweden

    Enlightened by the palaces of St. Petersburg and their collections, the distinguished Stockholm connaisseur who assembled this splendid group of furniture and ormolu, glass and marble objets d'art, dedicated his life to finding beautiful works of art of Russian and Swedish origin.
    His taste echoes that of the Emperors of Russia; his favourite palace and source of much of his inspiration was Pavlovsk.
    His discerning eye, unparalled knowledge but foremost his passion for finding rare and precious works of art enabled him to acquire the sensational items which are presented in this catalogue.

    RUSSIA: The Emperors and their tastes

    The Emperors of Russia reigned over the largest monarchy in the world and towards the end of the 18th Century Russia's phenomenal wealth, acquired partly through extensive forestry and mining, enabled its rulers to build palaces of unsurpassed richness and grandeur and fill them with superb pictures, furniture and works of art.
    Peter the Great had established Russia as a modern state and as an economic and military power. However, it was Catherine the Great who, through her artistic interests and diplomatic brilliance, transformed St. Petersburg into a sophisticated and glittering capital of true Imperial magnificence.
    During her reign Neo-Classicism soon became the official style and stylistic developments followed the west rapidly. Obviously, the latest Paris fashions were emulated, but not slavishly. Other influences, both in architecture and the decorative arts, from England, Italy and Germany, were equally embraced, thus forming an individual Russian Neo-Classical style, characteristic for its richness, opulence and colour. The Empress attracted Europe's most talented architects, designers and craftsmen to work in Russia in the late 18th Century, and ensured she was constanty informed of developments and fashions emerging elsewhere. Her most sensational building projects included the palaces and parks at Pavlovsk, built from 1782 for her heir, the future Paul I, by the Scottish architect Charles Cameron and with interiors by Vincenzo Brenna, the Small and Large Hermitage in St.Petersburg and the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo. In addition, she commissioned many alterations to existing buildings, for instance to the Winter Palace and the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoe Selo.
    The interiors at Pavlovsk demonstrate various aspects of Catherine the Great's new 'antique' style, but also the tastes of her successors. Through its well-documented interiors and commissions, it provides a treasure of informations on the oeuvre of various architects and craftsmen active during her reign, but also that of her son Paul I, and grandson Alexander I. The palace's superb interiors were filled with furniture, pictures and works of art purchased by Paul and his wife Maria Feodorovna, who continued to live there after his death in 1801.
    During the journey they made to France, Holland, Switzerland and Germany in 1782 as Comte and Comtesse du Nord, they purchased French furniture by Riesener and Jacob, Sevres porcelain, Gobelins tapestries and bronzes d'ameublement. In addition to these foreign purchases, a conscious effort was made to support local artists and craftsmen. The palace boasts various ornamental vases in hardstones and marbles quarried in the Ural mountains and executed in the Imperial lapidary workshops at Peterhof, Ekaterinburg and Kolyvan, where some of the columns and pilasters, incorporated in the architectural shell, had also been produced. The presence of these precious marbles and hardstones give Pavlosk, and other Imperial residences, a Neo-Classical decoration unique to Russia.
    Pavlovsk's collection of bronzes d'ameublement also plays a dominant role in its interiors. Various superb pieces had been acquired by Paul and Maria Feodorovna in Paris in 1782, including wall-lights and candelabra, ormolu-mounted porcelain and clocks, some by the greatest Paris bronziers, including Pierre-Philippe Thomire, Jean-Louis Prieur and Philippe Caffieri. In addition, and often on a much larger scale, were works made by Russian bronze-workers, some in collaboration with the Imperial lapidary workshops and glass factories, and following the designs and instructions of architects. The superb ormolu objects, ormolu-mounted marbles, hardstone and glass executed by Russian bronziers could rival those made by their French counterparts both in richness and design.
    The most talented Russian bronziers who worked for the Imperial Court, were Friedrich Bergenfeldt and Andrei Schreiber, whose pieces are included in this sale, but also the chandelier-maker Jonas Fischer, whose colourful chandeliers are emblamatic of the Russian Neo-Classical style.
    An architect who worked closely with St.Petersburg artists and craftsmen was Andrei Voronikhin, and it was he who was responsible for the restoration of Pavlovsk after the fire of 1803. During this project, he recreated some of Cameron and Brenna's interiors but also introduced various changes, which included newly-designed furniture and ornamental bronzes. His influence on the development of the Russian decorative arts during the early 19th Century is considerable and various items in the present sale follow his designs.
    Whereas many objects designed by Voronikhin or his contemporaries and executed by Russian bronziers were made entirely of gilt or patinated bronzes, many others incorporated costly sections of marble - as mentioned above - but also of superb cut-glass. The Imperial Glass Factory specialised in coloured glass, such as various hues of blue and red, but also pink, green and purple. During the reign of Alexander I, who succeeded in 1801, the factory developed various new techniques in glass-cutting and these items in coloured cut-glass and mounted in ormolu are among the most formidable works of art produced during Alexander I reign. The present sale includes a broad selection of cut-glass pieces in blue, red, green and pink and this rare selection demonstrates the quality and originality achieved in Russian glass.
    The output of the Imperial glass factory was managed by various architects and designers, whose role as artistic director or 'inventor' was instrumental. The French architect Jean Thomas de Thomon held this position from 1803 to 1814 and many glass items at Pavlovsk, and also in this sale, were designed by him. Karl Rossi, the court architect who worked on rebuilding Pavlovsk from 1814, was director from 1813 to 1819. He was succeeded by Ivan Ivanov, who worked until 1848. All three introduced many precious and monumental glass items to the Russian Imperial interiors.

    SWEDEN: The Northern Kingdom

    Situated in a ravishing archipelago, the magical town of Stockholm has for a long time been the base of the present connaisseur. Besides his great admiration for Russian works of art, he was obviously also drawn to his own Swedish heritage and the Swedish arts, which surrounded him all his life.
    With important victories over its neighbouring nations, Sweden was a great European power in the 17th Century. However, during a large part of the 18th Century, Sweden lost its importance on the international stage and the power of the monarchy, still evident in other European countries, wained.
    King Gustaf III, who ascended to the throne in 1771, was determined to re-establish the greatness of Sweden. He regained much political power within the country, but also had strong outward-looking focus, establishing himself as a true diplomat, a monarch whose stature rivalled that of Louis XVI and Catherine the Great. Patronage of the arts was an essential part of his reign and in doing so, he brought the arts of Sweden to an international level, which have always been much admired for their special Northern character and design. The Neo-Classical style was adopted by Gustaf III in a passionate way, not dissimilar to Catherine the Great's 'antique' ambitions discussed earlier.
    The Swedish decorative arts of the late 18th and early 19th Century, of which various brilliant examples are featured in this catalogue, went through a development very similar to that in Russia. There were important cultural exchanges between Stockholm and St. Petersburg. Many architects, designers, and craftsmen travelled between the two capitals and as a result there are important similarities in furniture and works of art but foremost in ornamental bronzes conceived in both artistic centres.
    The taste and personality of Gustaf III, but also that of his successor, Carl XIV Johan in particular, are very evident though the decorative arts. Both Kings were closely involved with building works, decorating interiors but also acquiring and commissioning furniture and pictures, ornamental vases and bronzes d'ameublement.
    Gustaf III journeys to France in 1771 and Italy in 1783-'84 made a profound impression on him and formed his taste. When he returned to Sweden, the young King brought back drawings, models an objets d'art. His travels made him aware of the latest fashions and enabled him to emulate these in Sweden.
    His first major building project took place in 1772 in the Royal Palace in Stockholm, where Jean-Eric Rehn introduced Sweden's first interiors in full-blown Neo-Classical style.
    After Rehn, various other architects played an important role not only in their main capacity but as designers of interiors as well as furniture and works of art. This includes Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz and his nephew Carl Fredrik Sundvall, who provided designs for the Älvdalen porphyry workshops; Louis-Jean Deprez, who worked at Haga and Drottningholm; his pupil Fredrik Blom, responsible for Rosendal; Louis Masreliez, who in the late 1780's and 1790 introduced the 'Pompeiian' style to various Royal residences, including the Royal Palace, Haga, Tullgarn and Drottningholm.
    As mentioned earlier, the 'antique' interiors conceived in Russia were much enhanced by columns and ornamental vases in Ural hardstone and marbles. In Sweden, porphyry mined at Älvdalen (Elfdal) played a similar role, but was also employed on a more domestic scale.
    Royal patronage of Swedish porphyry mines was taken up by Gustaf III but his death in 1792, meant that only a few items were ordered by him for Haga. Subsequent Kings of Sweden, but also the aristocracy and the Stockholm elite, purchased porphyry vases, tazze, and bowls for their decoration schemes and Swedish porphyry had subsequently become one of the symbols of the Swedish versions of the late Louis XVI and Empire styles.
    The present sale includes various objects in this precious 'ancient' stone and demonstrates the diversity in types but also the large variety of models available from the Manufacture des Porphyres d'Elfdal. Blyberg, Rännas, Orrlok, Bredval and Tinguait are just some of the types of porphyry and granite quarried at Älvdalen and their colours, ranging from speckled black (Orrklitt) to light pinks (Mansta) and greys (Loka-Risberg) demonstrate the enormous diversity, which echoes the characteristics of Ancient Roman marbles. Some of these porphyry objects were embellished with finely-chased gilt-bronze mounts and the designs for vases by hovciselör Fredrik Ludvig Rung of 1799 demonstrate his sophosticated style which was adopted by various other Swedish bronziers.
    Besides Rung, few Swedish bronze-workers can be linked to a substantial oeuvrve through documented commissions. Most Swedish ormolu pieces, even the most spectacular examples, therefore often remain anonymous. An exception is formed by a considerable number of ormolu clocks, which through their signed dials, can be associated with a maker. Carl Ludvig Mangeot, for instance, active in Stockholm in the early 19th Century, supplied various fine Empire clocks to the Royal Court.
    The present sale also includes a fine selection of ormolu and ormolu-mounted works of art of Swedish origin. In some cases, their quality and design show close similarities with Russian, with only subtle differences in model, chasing, and gilding setting them apart.
    For Swedish furniture on the contrary, guild regulations stipulated that cabinet-makers were required to stamp their work, which like in France, gives important clues to their oeuvre. Both in Paris and in Stockholm, the guild rules were not always obeyed, but unstamped pieces can often be linked to stamped or labelled examples, which allows for more firm attributions.
    The superb examples of the Russian and Swedish decorative arts featured in this catalogue, demonstrate the richness and originality achieved by artists and craftsmen working in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Stockholm between 1790 and 1840. The erudite connaisseur who selected the works of art, was drawn by the special qualities of these Northern pieces. His collection of marbles and hardstones, finely-chased ormolu, cut and coloured-glass and elegant mahogany and giltwood furniture, echoes the tastes of the Emperors of Russia and Kings of Sweden, whose castles and palaces were filled with such treasures that inspire us still today.