Russia's rich and varied tradition of enameling can be placed within the context of one of the earliest and most widely practiced forms of decoration. In the 11th century, Kiev closely adhered to the Byzantine traditions in producing the first Russian enamels. Progress was interrupted by the Mongol invasions in the 13th century. There was, however, a revival of the arts in the 16th century, and during the 17th century the Kremlin Armory in Moscow and various northern trading centers emerged as major bases for the manufacture of liturgical and secular enamels, while the program of westernization initiated by Peter the Great in the early 18th century attracted foreign artisans who brought their own techniques to the capital, St Petersburg. The 19th century closed with a dichotomy of styles: classicizing, courtly traditions flourished in St Petersburg, as demonstrated in the art of pre-eminent master Carl Faberge. However, Moscow served as the heart of the Russian Revival movement, and the vibrantly colored and exotic-looking revival enamels are also prized by collectors today. The enamels illustrated are from three sources: The Walters Art Gallery established in Baltimore by Henry Walters who patronized the Faberge firm in St Petersburg in 1900, the Hillwood Museum in Washington, D.C., housing Mrs Marjorie Merriweather Post's superb holdings of Russian and French 18th- and 19th-century decorative arts, and a private collector who has explored every aspect of the Russian Revival movement.About the Author:
Anne Odom is Chief Curator of the Hillwood Museum, Washington D.C.
William R. Johnston is associate Director and Curator of 18th and 19th century art at the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore.
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