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2013

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2014

2019

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Soup Plate (Russia), 1756–early 1760s

This is a soup plate. It was made by Imperial Porcelain Manufactory. It is dated 1756–early 1760s and we acquired it in 2013. Its medium is glazed, painted and gilded moulded porcelain. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Made for the Empress Elizaveta Petrovna (reign 1741–1761), daughter of Peter the Great and a great art patron, this soup plate is a very rare example of the earliest period of Russian porcelain and beautiful design object.
Although both Peter the Great and Elizaveta’s predecessor, Empress Anna, attempted to sponsor domestic porcelain production when it was new to Europe earlier in the century, it was Elizaveta who succeeded in 1744 with the establishment of the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in St. Petersburg. The manufactory was among the earliest of the European hard paste porcelain factories and, unlike most, it has operated continually, with varying names, to the present day. It is this same factory, under the name Lomonosov Porcelain Factory, that produced much of the Soviet (and later, Russian) porcelain that is held in Cooper-Hewitt's collection—including some by Eva Zeisel.
The significance of the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in its earliest years was that it did not rely extensively on pilfering formulas from other factories. Dmitri Vinogradov, a Russian scientist who had studied in Germany, was able to create a formula using indigenous Russian materials. In 1756, the factory created a kiln large enough to make plates and tureens and was able to start producing dinner services. This service, originally designed for 25 people, belongs to this initial era.
Although Germany, especially Meissen, was the factory of dominant influence, this serving plate is an original concept by the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory. The floret and trellis concept is somewhat reminiscent of Meissen pierced fruit basket designs of the same period, but this almost op-art arrangement of flower heads on a gilt trellis in overlapping spirals within a scalloped border is especially suited to plate design. Its concentric spirals possibly reference those created in 16th- and 17th-century Venetian glass. The plate is molded and sculpted by hand, and the color is hand-painted. The rose-magenta pink color reflects the femininity often associated with Madame de Pompadour (chief mistress to Louis XV and responsible for establishing Sèvres). The French, however, were not the source of hard paste porcelain designs at the time; Sèvres produced soft paste porcelain until after Elizaveta’s reign ended. Empress Elizaveta was known, however, for keeping up-to-date with French design. During her reign she imported newly fashionable rococo furniture design, and also brought great examples to inspire local production and taste, and to serve as models for local commissions.
Further reading:
Maurice Baruch, Shedevry russkogo farfora XVIII veka iz sobraniia galerei "Popov & Ko" (Moscow: Pinakoteka, 2009) 57-61.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled A Strong Design for a Woman of Strong Tastes.

This object was purchased from Sotheby's. It is credited Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund.

Our curators have highlighted 3 objects that are related to this one.

Its dimensions are

H x diam.: ? x 25.7 cm (? x 10 1/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Soup Plate (Russia), 1756–early 1760s; Made by Imperial Porcelain Manufactory (Russia); glazed, painted and gilded moulded porcelain; H x diam.: ? x 25.7 cm (? x 10 1/8 in.); Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund; 2013-39-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68246011/ |title=Soup Plate (Russia), 1756–early 1760s |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 March 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>