Thursday, August 7, 2008

Art: Blue porcelain from Russia

Last week at Olavipe I came across some beauties tucked away in the archives room - the Gzhel porcelain collection my brother Jacob acquired during his stint in Moscow. What makes them unique are the cobalt blue against white background, and the motifs. Each design is handmade, and a work of art.

What I found amazing is that Gzhel porcelain is not just decorative pieces or souvenirs. They are mostly functional household items embedded with beautiful artwork – plates, serving dishes, cups and saucers, mugs, samovars and the like. The range also includes clocks, vodka containers and figurines.

Gzhel is the name of the village where these stunning pieces are crafted. It is about 60km SE of Moscow. High quality white clay is abundant in the area. That apparently was the reason why the people there took up pottery centuries back. It seems that the oldest record relating to this dates back to 1339.

Initially the artisans of Gzhel produced plain or enameled utensils and toys. In course of time they mastered the art of majolica and faience. The cobalt blue and white stream was developed in the 19c and became popular within a short span of time.

The outbreak of the First World War and the subsequent Bolshevik Revolution pushed the Gzhel porcelain industry into a crisis. But it bounced back. Today the masterpieces from Gzhel are admired all over the world and are in great demand.

I took photographs of some of the pieces. They are reproduced below. The copyright is reserved. You can click on them to enlarge.

Also see Divine Strokes



Very nice collection!

Murali RamaVarma said...

I found the article very interesting.These pieces of art are beautiful indeed. I have had occasion to read about the English porcelain because I collected a few some time back. The hall markings on the English porcelain are most interesting because it gives the place of manufacture, month and year of making etc clearly. Did you look at the hall marks of these Russian porcelain which may be given at the bottom?


Abraham Tharakan said...

You are right, Raji. The pieces are nice. Hope to publish more photos.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Yes, Murali, the Russian ones had to be sorted out from some other European pieces.