Russian enamel

A number of regions such as the northern Stroganovsky and Usolsky established their own enamel traditions in the Seventeenth Century. Meanwhile it was the cloisonné and filigree enamel techniques that set Moscow and later St Petersburg apart. Enamel portraits of Peter the Great and his family were painted on miniatures and given as awards.

Although the name ‘cloisonné’ is French, most antique pieces found in this style were created in Russia and today often referred to as ‘Russian Enamel’ as many of aspect of the ornamentation reflect the architecture and stylistic characteristics of Russian art and design, for example, the vibrant colours of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square.

The most famous maker of nineteenth century cloisonné enamel pieces was Karl Faberge, whose infamous Faberge eggs are some of the best quality and most widely recognisable pieces of cloisonné enamel in the world. His infamy, alongside the value and craftsmanship in his pieces, ensured that Russia adopted cloisonné enamel decoration as its own, and secured a style that has continued be revered as the zenith of Russian artistry all over the world.

Another enamel technique mastered by Russian craftsmen in the Eighteenth Century was Nielo enamelling. Nielo was usually used to decorate cigarette cases with scenes of buildings or the ubiquitous troika (three horse drawn carriage).