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Between 9 October 2020 and 10 January 2021, "Carl Fabergé and Feodor Rückert. Masterpieces of Russian Enamel" will be on show at the exhibition halls of the Assumption Belfry and Patriarch’s Palace in the Moscow Kremlin Museums. Visitors will have a rare opportunity to see about four hundred enamelled pieces made of precious metals—all produced by Russian jewellery firms of the late 19th – early 20th century.

The project focuses on the works by the court jeweller to Russian Tsars, Carl Fabergé, and on the skill of the finest Russian "enamel painter" Feodor Ivanovich Rückert. For the first time, masterpieces of outstanding Russian jewellers and enamellists of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, now kept in more than twenty museums and private collections, will be united within a single exhibition space. Fabergé and Rückert enjoyed long and fruitful cooperation: Feodor Rückert created enamelled pieces, commissioned to him by the court jeweller, as well as worked for the legendary Russian firms of P. Ovchinnikov and I. Khlebnikov—suppliers to the Highest Imperial Court—and other famous Moscow companies. Along with the pieces by Fabergé and Rückert, visitors will be able to contemplate items produced by other firms, companies, workshops and artels founded by O. Kurlyukov, A. Postnikov, M. Semenova, G. Klingert, A. Kuzmichev.

The exceptional pieces displayed at the exhibition represent the entire known range of the most complex enamel techniques—from cloisonné and champlevé to the translucent plique-à-jour enamels with the stained-glass effect, as well as guilloché and painted enamel. As an example, a silver-gilt cup by Feodor Rückert, luxuriously decorated with cloisonné and painted enamel, is brought from the United Kingdom. The cup was purchased by Sir Arthur Gilbert at the Sotheby's auction in 1989 and has been kept in the Victoria and Albert Museum for over 10 years.

Jewellers at the turn of the 19th – 20th centuries often decorated their pieces with miniature, painted enamel reproductions of famous paintings by contemporary artists. Their sources of inspiration were the works by V. Vasnetsov, K. Makovsky, I. Kulikov, S. Solomko, F. Sychkov, V. Vereshchagin and others. Typically, such enamel compositions would capture the scenes from Russian life and Russian history of the "centuries gone by", but there were exceptions, such as Fabergé silver box. It represents the events that took place in the master’s lifetime and features a miniature copy of V. Vereshchagin's original painting "Before the Attack. At Plevna". This is the only existing Fabergé piece representing scenes from the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878.

Apart from canvases by the major painters of that time, master jewellers, enamellists and silversmiths drew their inspiration from masterpieces held in the Moscow Kremlin Armoury collection. For them, it served as an excellent school and a source of ideas. The exhibition features for the first time such rare objects from the Armoury treasury, as Usolie enamels (Usolie is the town in Siberia), pieces made by master jewellers from the Kremlin workshops, as well as Chinese porcelain objects of the 16th – 17th centuries.

Many of these works are not only the epitome of virtuosic mastery of Russian silversmiths and enamellists but also have historical and commemorative value. Some of these items served as diplomatic gifts, others featured official Imperial symbols and coats-of-arms, as they were presented on behalf of the monarch. And finally, there are items commissioned as private family gifts,—tokens of love and affection, which still contain intact the engraved dedications in various languages. They testify to the fact that the works by Russian enamellists enjoyed wide recognition all over the world, were much admired and loved. Now they grace the largest museum collections and arouse keen interest in all those who love and appreciate Russian jewellery-making tradition.

 
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