6 December 2011, saw the opening of a new permanent exhibition in the Department of the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory of the State Hermitage Museum, which presents porcelain articles from the time of the Soviet Union, and those that have been created since then at Russia’s oldest porcelain works.
In 1918, when the factory was put in the hands of the People’s Commissariat, artists oriented towards various creative pursuits were brought in. The first director of the artistic aspect of the facility was Sergei Chekhonin, who created a new Soviet style, in which the traditions of national art and classicism were combined with elements of futurism used in painting the porcelain articles. The circumstances of the civil war prevented this new “revolutionary” or “avant-garde” style in porcelain from becoming widespread. However, its artistic novelty brought the factory glory the world over.
The agitporcelain of the 1920s reflected the political and social side of life: revolutionary slogans and emblems, historic dates, portraits of leaders and simple residents of revolutionary Petrograd.
Nostalgia of the passing culture permeates the works made according to
the models and drawings of
In May 1923, N.N. Punin, one of the ideologues of leftist content in art became the artistic director of the factory. He brought in N. Suetin, I. Chashnik, A. Leporskaya, and E. Krimmer. The models of three dimensional suprematism, the famous teapot and semi-cups, were created by K. Malevich. Porcelain turned out to be the ideal material for suprematist compositions.
The pieces made in the 1930s reflect industrialization and collectivization, the construction of new cities, the development of aviation, the opening of the North, the Soviet East, etc. Sculpture presented new heroes: workers, peasants, and students. However, N. Suetin, who was the head of the factory at the time, was able to cultivate a sense of style among the younger masters. This made it possible for porcelain to retain its artistry and individuality during the age of socialist realism.
During the Soviet days, the factory fulfilled government orders, gifts
to mark historic dates, jubilees of leaders, services for government residences.
The war left its mark, appearing in the form and subjects of porcelain decoration. Post war art is characterized by a distinct sense of the value of life, expressed, first of all, in decorations dedicated to children, nature, and one’s native city.
At the International Exhibition in Brussels in 1958, the achievements of the artists of the Leningrad Porcelain Factory (as the Imperial Porcelain Factory was then known) were highly valued. This shaped their future development. Forms and decorations became more laconic, restrained, and somewhat decorative.
By the end of the 1960s, special forms and projects were created for
the new products of thin-walled bone porcelain. In the
As the Soviet era was coming to an end, a new generation of artists changed
people’s attitude towards porcelain as a material and how it was used.
Expressive shapes, more complex elaboration of forms, and a more active,
colourful painting style characterizes the work of contemporary masters,
preserving cultural tradition and simultaneously seeking new forms of