The Color of Heaven is Blue... Cobalt on the
Porcelain of the Imperial (Lomonosov) Porcelain Factory 18th - 19th Centuries.
From the Christmas Gift series
As part of the traditional Christmas Presents series, an exhibition
has been opened which relates the history of glazed paintings using cobalt
at a famous
Underglazed painting using cobalt is one of the most ancient and most complicated techniques for decorating ceramic, demanding a high level of mastery. This technique developed over a thousand years in the East, experienced a bloom with European porcelain.
Shortly after the foundation in 1744 of the first porcelain factory,
the Nevsky Porcelain Manufactory (from1765
Cobalt plays an important role in the painting palette for underglaze,
polychrome paintings at the end of
In the post revolutionary years, to create new themes artists often used the dinner services produced by the former Imperial Factory, executed cobalt decorations and spots, designed for the final painting layer before glazing. In the 1920s 1930s the laboratory attached to the factory carried out work to produce paints from Russian resources, including paints for underglazes, which before the war had been used for decorating sculptures.
For the 200th anniversary of the Lomonosov Leningrad Factory in 1944, the artist Anna Yatskevich created a dinner service, The Cobalt Net which has become a signature piece for the enterprise. Following the war production was fully restarted; at that time also a workshop for underglaze painting was established. At the same time as the traditional methods were being used, new, decorative approaches were adopted.
In the mid 1960s equipment was introduced into the factory for silk screen printing with cobalt.
The exhibition Heavenly Colours Blue includes approximately two hundred works which demonstrate cobalt techniques in decorative porcelain, and also the mastership and variety of many creative artists.
Among the works created before 1917 is the Vase and Lid with an Allegorical
Painting in Medallions (late 1780s - 1796), made in honour of Empress
Catherine the Great. The vase Frost (1910) which is mentioned in the production
lists of the Imperial Porcelain Factory to be brought to the Christmas
celebrations of 1911 for Emperor
The variety in the works displayed by the masters of the Soviet period bear the visiting card of the oldest porcelain factory in Russia, the dinner service Cobalt Net (1950); the Snow Maiden dinner service (1922), made to the storyline of the opera by Rimsky-Korsakov; the porcelain vase, specially made for the porcelain factory museum North Sea Route (1937), embodying the heroism of Cheluskins crew which had been trapped on Arctic ice and were heroically rescued.
Among the work of contemporary artists at the factory one can draw attention to the plates from the Polar Sky series (2007), dedicated to military aviators from the anti-aircraft defense regiments (PVO) of the Leningrad Military District, which were named after the months of winter: December, January and February. In the paintings of the composition Stanza (2007) a Russian translation of a poem by Kanagaki Robun, is used to decorate the porcelain which was painted for a memorial portrait of the artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi.
A coloured catalogue has been produced for the exhibition (State Hermitage
Publishing House, 2007). The exhibition curator is