RUSSIA AND FRANCE: PARADOXES OF JEWELRY ART IN MODERN STYLE
Jewelry of the new style at the end of the 19th century conquered everyone with its bright decorativeness and imagery, which are characterized by drama and symbolism, unusually interpreted mythological characters, asymmetric mannerism and sophistication of lines. Equally typical for this style are the images of luxurious, fatal women – femme fatale. In this context, there is a certain symbolism reflecting the passing age and the changes that it entailed, including the new role of women in society.
The end of the nineteenth – the beginning of the twentieth century – a tense period in the history of both countries – Russia and France. It was in this difficult time, saturated with political and economic upheavals, at the turn of the century, in the art of Europe, a new art direction was formed – Art Nouveau. This style is clearly manifested in works of jewelry, the flowering of which is observed both in France and in Russia. At the same time, in Russia, on the basis of its own sources of imagery of past centuries, the national style continues to develop and at the same time, the modernist style coming from Europe is being mastered creatively. French artists are looking for inspiration in the art of other countries. They are most interested in the East, primarily Japan.
In Russia, the principle of the canon, which has existed since baptism for many centuries in the form of church rules for writing icons, was natural and familiar. And he did not imply creative freedom. What was needed was personalities capable of creating their own style that would look attractive, original and could satisfy the tastes of such high-ranking customers.
Such are rightfully considered I. Sazikov, P. Ovchinnikov, I. Khlebnikov and others, who raised the style of Russian modernism to the world level.
Russian jewelers made themselves known at the London World Exhibition in 1851, where Ignatius Sazikov demonstrated Russian silver art casting. Sazikov’s silver jewelry factory in Moscow with a branch in St. Petersburg lasted from 1810 to 1896, and during this time four generations of this family changed. They have been suppliers to the Imperial Court since 1837. The press called Ignatius Sazikov Russian Benvenuto Cellini, noting that his ideas, drawings and models are absolutely Russian. After the London exhibition, the Russian company first received orders from abroad, in particular from England.
Russian firms successfully embodied new ideas based on powerful and well-organized production. For example, by 1882, up to 1000 master jewelers worked at Khlebnikov’s production. Every year they used about 8 tons of silver and 160 kilograms of gold, and diamonds and colored stones in the amount of up to 600 thousand rubles.
The contribution of the Ovchinnikovs to the development of Russian painted and cloisonne enamel is enormous. The life of the founder of the company, Pavel Ovchinnikov, is perceived as fiction. Being a serf of the Volkonsky princes, he discovered his ability to draw and was sent to study in a jewelry workshop in Moscow. He became an excellent master, got a free one, got married and opened his own company for 1000 rubles of a dowry. At the age of 35, in 1865, he presented his products in the Russian style at the exhibition, received a gold medal for them and became a court supplier. Ovchinnik founded a school at his factory. Experts noted the high level of his work with enamel on filigree cloisonne, window and painted. It is significant that he developed plots together with artists, sculptors and other specialists, including borrowing themes from old Russian books.
Russian jewelers in those years paid serious attention to the popularity of botany, even ordered drawings for jewelry to botanists and entomologists. At one time, N. Vrubel taught the course “Color Statistics” at the Stroganov School. An example of the embodiment of botanical themes can be a brooch in the form of a bouquet made in the workshop of I.P. Runov. In St. Petersburg, they knew Vasilyev’s workshop. According to information that has reached us, the workshop of I.D. Chichelev was famous in Moscow, whose original gold jewelry with diamonds and enamels were awarded high prizes in 1862 at an exhibition in London, 1867 in Paris, 1873 in Vienna, and in 1876 in Philadelphia. Chichelev competed with Bolin. He was the supplier of the Italian king Victor Emanuel and the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph. One of Chichelev’s jewelry is a gold medallion brooch, covered with a thin pattern made of filigree with small curls of colored enamel, precious stones and pearls.
Against the background of “Russianness” and “utilitarianism” of the products of these jewelers (dishes, cups, piles, etc.), Faberge and Bolin jewelry embody the merger of Western and Eastern cultural traditions. Along the way, we note that French designers worked at the Bolin factory. The diamond shine of small and large stones, usual for that time in jewelry, shading the certain heaviness of precious metals, and the quality of execution were their hallmark.