A Russian Porcelain Hors D'Oeuvres Plate from the Raphael Service, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, St. Petersburg, Period of Nicholas II (1894-1917)

the border decorated with panels with swans and antique heads among scrolls and foliage against an iron red ground framed within delicately beaded gilt bands alternating with medallions with figures of griffins and a nude boy en grisaille against a gray ground, all of this against a celadon green ground elaborated with a leafy vine en grisaille, the handle with smaller panels containing birds, butterflies, lyres and scrolls against a gray ground - with gilt Imperial cypher mark and date 1903 - length 28 cm. Est. 18,000—22,000 USD


Serving pieces like this seledochnik (plat à hors d'oeuvre) have appeard only rarely on the market. For another hors d'oeuvres plate from this service, see N.B. von Wolf (ed. T.N. Nosovich), Imperatorskii farforovyi zavod, 1744-1904, St. Petersburg, 2003, fig. 403, p. 270.

NOTE: Ordered in 1883 for the Great Catherine Palace of Tsarskoe Selo, the Raphael service was the most important service produced at the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The ornament is carefully derived from motifs in the Hermitage's Raphael Loggia, which had been copied for Catherine II after frescoes by Raphael and his students in the loggias of the Vatican. The service's primary decoration alternates panels with human and animal figures interwoven with scrolls and foliage and medallions with antique figures en grisaille set against gray, celadon, iron red, or light blue backgrounds. The project was so complex that Leonard Schaufelberger, head of the manufactory's painting workshop, oversaw the designs, and Emperor Alexander III personally approved most of them. Indeed, the service was so unusual that pieces from it are uniquely marked with large, stenciled ciphers of the ruling monarch in tooled gold Slavonic script. The ornately painted service was completed in 1903 after twenty years' work and included only fifty place settings.

Sotheby's. Russian Art. 22 Apr 09. New York www.sothebys.com photo courtesy Sotheby's