• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7745

    Important European Furniture, Sculpture & Clocks

    9 July 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 47

    A RUSSIAN RED AND GILT-DECORATED BLACK SMALT GLASS VASE

    CIRCA 1810, THE IMPERIAL GLASS FACTORY, ST. PETERSBURG, PROBABLY AFTER A DESIGN BY JEAN THOMAS DE THOMON

    Price Realised  

    A RUSSIAN RED AND GILT-DECORATED BLACK SMALT GLASS VASE
    CIRCA 1810, THE IMPERIAL GLASS FACTORY, ST. PETERSBURG, PROBABLY AFTER A DESIGN BY JEAN THOMAS DE THOMON
    Of amphora shape and decorated with an Etruscan scene, the pinched neck above a spreading palmette border and flanked by rounded handles, the slightly tapering body on a circular base
    13½ in. (34.25 cm.) high


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    This superb 'Etruscan' vase, a masterpiece conceived at the Imperial Glass Factory in St. Petersburg around 1810, was probably designed by the celebrated French artist and graphic designer Jean Thomas de Thomon, who held the post of artistic director or 'inventor' at the factory between 1804 and 1813. Prior to that, he worked in the service of Prince Esterhazy in Vienna from 1794 and 1798 and was invited to work in Russia in 1799 (N. Ashina et. al., Russian Glass, Moscow, 1990).

    A closely related vase of krater form and with gilt decoration is at Pavlovsk, which Anatoly Kuchumov attributes to Thomas de Thomon and dates to 1810-1820 (Russian Decorative Art in the Collection of the Pavlovsk Palace Museum, St. Petersburg, 1981, no. 121, p. 121). Kuchumov lists various other pieces executed at the Imperial Glass Factory, including vases, bowls, toilet sets and goblets, all in coloured glass, many of which were New Year presents to the Imperial Court.
    The so-called Etruscan or Pompeian decoration of these vases, inspired by Ancient Greek vase painting, was generally employed on ceramics. Various porcelain manufactories throughout Europe produced 'Etruscan' wares, first at Naples with others following soon after. The Imperial Porcelain factory also produced vases decorated in this fashion, including a pair of vases in the Greek Hall at Pavlovsk, a New Year present to Emperor Paul I in 1798 (A. Kuchumov, Pavlovsk, St. Petersburg, 1976, fig. 27). However, Etruscan decoration on glass was extremely rare and a speciality of the Imperial Glass Factory at St. Petersburg. The superlative quality and range of these glass items at Pavlovsk demonstrate that 'Etruscan' glass was a passion of the Emperor himself.

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