State Porcelain Factory
The importance of the State Porcelain Factory in the artistic and industrial life of Russia is especially great now, when there is no private porcelain production and the Porcelain Factory has no rivals in the manufacture of art pottery.
On its almost two-hundredth anniversary, the Porcelain Factory has created many products of high artistic perfection, but had little effect on the development of the ceramic industry in Russia because it was too far from the market’s demands and the needs of the masses. His main task was to serve the needs of the b. imperial court). Products of the plant did not go on sale and fell onto the market accidentally. The plant did not prepare the specialists of ceramic art and did not give the country the masters of its school. Most of the items were made from hard porcelain, the production of which is very expensive; Soft porcelain, cheaper and more grateful in artistic terms, was produced in a very limited number.
The end of the eighteenth century and the first half of the last century were the epoch of the heyday of the Porcelain Factory. Products produced in this era, could compete with the best works of Western European ceramics. At the end of the Nicholas period, and mainly under Alexander II, the artistic merit of the products of the Porcelain Factory changed dramatically for the worse, due to a decrease in the overall aesthetic level in the circles involved in art.
The fall of the artistic value of Russian porcelain continued under Alexander III. The era of reactionary inertia and routine naturally caused stagnation in artistic and industrial life. Quantitatively, the work did not go down, but its quality fell. Every lover and collector of porcelain knows how little among the products of the time of Alexander II and Alexander III things that attract plastic elegance or the beauty of painting.
The isolation of the Porcelain Factory, its estrangement from the artistic life of the country, led to the fact that at the beginning of the current century, when decorative skills began to blossom in Russia and found talented adepts in the face of the artists of the World of Art Society, the products of the Porcelain Factory continued to follow the patterns.The conditional ” luxury “, frozen in the banal, long-worn-out forms, and handicraft.”
The beauty “is characteristic of the products of the plant in the era of Nicholas. 11 The rich experience of the last century was consigned to oblivion, and behind new the factory did not follow the search for art. The production was spent huge sums, which were not justified by the quality of the products. They imitated the Danish porcelain, then followed the French models, not creating anything original. Finally, the picturesque department of the Porcelain Factory was still more dead, when the war of 1914 came, and the plant’s activity was entirely aimed at utilitarian tasks.
A new era in the life of the Porcelain Factory was opened in 1917, when the revolution radically changed the entire economic structure of Russia. Porcelain Factory, which was exclusively and permanently (except for military blanks) the supplier of the imperial court, became a national property. In accordance with this, his organization and direction of his activities were to change.
Before the factory, new tasks began. Served formerly by a select few, he was to become the supplier of the whole people. Shortly after the February Revolution of 1917, some artists raised the issue of fate b. Imperial Porcelain Factory. Representatives of the new government – the commissioner for the arts Golovin and his assistant, the architect Makarov, appealed to the Arts Council with a proposal to clarify the issue of the fate of the Porcelain Factory. At the meeting it was invited by Alexander Benois, G. I. Narbut, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin and others. The meeting decided to insist that the Porcelain Factory and lapidary factory did not stop their activities. The decision was immediately enforced and, thus, the interruption in the work of the Porcelain Factory was very short-lived.
But artistic production Porcelain Factory during the interim government to continue on the old road: established tradition (if one can speak of a “tradition” of Nicholas I) did not change and new things were created by copying the old samples.
After the October Revolution under the Commissariat of Agriculture, an artistic council for the affairs of the artistic industry was organized. The council consisted of thin. SV Chekhonin, PK Vaulin and head of the department of rural economy Pogruzov. It was assumed that the Porcelain Factory would be run by the Commissariat of Agriculture. This decision was made at a meeting of the artistic council, in which P. K-Vaulin, M. V. Dobuzhinsky, A. V. Lunacharsky, A. Matveev, N. K. Roerich, S. V. Chekhonin, D. participated. P. Shterenberg. The collegium of the Department of Fine Arts, which arose later in the Winter Palace, found it necessary to transfer the Porcelain Factory to the competence of the Enlightenment Commissariat. The first time the administrative group of the Department of Fine Arts (Fine Arts) came Nathan Altman, PK Vaulin A. V. Lunacharsky, N. N. Punin, Larisa Reisner, D. P. Shterenberg, GS Yatmanov.
The College of Fine Arts decided first of all to pay attention to the position of the Academy of Arts. Karev, the Commissioner of the Academy of Arts, was involved in the work of the panel. Then S.V. Chekhonin and A.T. Matveev were invited. The main core of the board remained the same, “Seven”, augmented by new entrants. This board and taken in charge by the former Imperial Porcelain Factory and the Peterhof Lapidary Works. Go Porcelain Factory in the Commissariat of Enlightenment was not painless. The workers’ council Porcelain Factory opposed converted into Kompros and between representatives IZO and the workers’ council had friction, but soon, however, it was possible to establish relations between the IZO and Zavod.The management of the artistic part of the Porcelain Factory was, for me the collegium of the IZO, to go personally to SV Chekhonin or KA Somov. “With balloting, a majority of votes were received by Chekhonin.
General management of the activities of the Porcelain Factory passed to the troika, consisting of Vaulina, Chekhonin and Shterenberg. Vaulin took over administrative and economic duties, Chekhonin took charge of the artistic side of the matter, Shterenberg was a representative of the IZO. The plant’s management has been conducted from the very beginning and up to the present in direct connection with the factory-factory committee. In addition, the management of the plant involves two directors – one for the administrative and economic part, the other for the technical one. The composition of the workers remained almost the same; in the picturesque department there were 12 workers, all in the factory about 100. P. Kuznetsov and E. Danko, his assistant, remained sculptors.
SV Chekhonin took up his duties in February 1918. The first thing he encountered in getting acquainted with the plant’s activities was the lack of technical skill among the workers, even among the old masters who worked at the Plant for 15 or 15 years. Established in the past, the custom of copying paintings, depersonalized the uniqueness of porcelain technology and many products differed mismatch between technology and material. Very low productivity led the artistic director to switch to “simple” porcelain execution, mass production was organized, the workers had to familiarize themselves with artisanal work to acquire a skill in free handling of paint and paint, sorting them had to be guided not so much by the artistic as by the technical sign.
The remaining workers were not enough, and we had to think about replenishing the plant with new forces. In order to acquire new artistic material, the Plant invited the most prominent artists to make sketches for painting porcelain.The designs of the painting were presented by artists: Alekseev, Altman, Belkin, Boguslavskaya, Kozlinsky, Konashevich, Pavel Kuznetsov (and his disciples), Lebedev, Ulyanov, Chekhonin, etc. A number of products were made on these sketches by the craftsmen of the Plant, and some of these artists continue to work for the Factory. At the end of 1918, the staff of the plant was replenished with new artists.
Hood. M. Adamovich performed a series of “Views of Old Petersburg” consisting of 12 plates decorated with architectural landscapes, executed in the manner of the tinted sepia, a series of Russian folk types (genre scenes with a touch of classicism of the late 18th century), a series of multicolored agitation porcelain with slogans and so on. The products of the latter type are produced continuously and still.
The artist Shcherbakov owns a number of Russian landscapes with a touch of Dutch influence.
The artist Shchekotikhina performed a series of multicolored services with the image of fantastic, fantastic motifs – dishes, plates, cups, etc., having developed a peculiar style and special technique.
The artist Rozendorf wrote several everyday scenes with a futuristic bias.
The artist Kobyletskaya performed many agitational motifs, as well as original ornaments from herbs, flowers, etc.
The artist Frese (who did not work for a long time at the factory) performed several floral ornaments, including Vychegjanin, Ivashintsev, Kirillov, Golenkina, Gertsyk, and others.
Artist Lyubov Gaush performed porcelain portraits of Decembrists: Pestel, Bestuzhev-Ryumin, Ryleyev, Muravyov-Apostle and Kakhovsky.
This series is made in the manner of illuminated engravings. In order to more accurately observe historical truth and portrait resemblance, L. Gaush studied the iconography of the Decembrists in the Museum of the Revolution under the leadership of II. E. Schegoleva.
Several plates were made according to the silhouettes of V. V. Gelmersen (plots from Russian epic stories).
In recent times, a number of works of agitational nature have performed thin. V. Timarev and M. Lebedev. Some of their works are extremely effective in decorative terms.
Sculptural works, produced by Porcelain Factory in recent years, are few. First of all, the previously harvested white sculpture was used – large figures depicting various nationalities of Russia (commissioned by Komvneshtorg) are painted. Some figurines of the slave were also performed on old forms. Somov. The latter became much worse, due to the fact that the forms swam and do not give a sufficiently distinct cast: the figures turn out to be coarser and more primitive.
The new sculptural works of the Factory include statuettes of a sailor, a worker, a Red Guardsman, a Red Army soldier, a bust of K. Marx (large and small), Novikov, a mask of Volodarsky and several figures from folk tales). The sailor, the worker and the Red Army sold E.Danko; she also produced a series of smoking pipes (with the heads of women, workers, Red Army men), several bottles and brooches. All other sculptures were performed by Kuznetsov in 1918 and 1919.
The imitation of old porcelain was fundamentally rejected, except for a short period of mass experiments, when for the sake of acquiring a technical skill, a number of copies of antiquities and variations on old motifs were performed. In the near future it is supposed to make a mask and the hand of Alexander Blok on casts made from the late poet on the day before the burial.
he let out a series of mugs-heads on the model of Gardner’s under the supervision of Chekhonin).
Expanding the activities of the Porcelain Factory demanded the opening of a branch in the city center. The distance of the location of the Porcelain Factory always caused not a small difficulty-the artists had to spend a lot of time on long trips. With the aim of eliminating these difficulties and increasing the productivity of production, the collegium decided to form a branch of the Plant under the b. School of Stieglitz where all the technical devices for the production of porcelain were available, since at the school a special class of ceramics had functioned for a long time. The excellent art and industrial museum of the school of Stieglitz contains a rich collection of porcelain, illustrating all sorts of technical techniques.
The ceramic workshop of the school was adapted for the needs of the Porcelain Factory. Since then, only duplicates and replicas have been performed at the plant itself, and the entire compositional side of the matter is concentrated in the department at the Stieglitz School.
When production on new principles was established, the question arose about the sale, which should promote the development of aesthetics in the broad strata of the people, educate the artistic taste of the proletariat and carry out the agitational role. At the same time, the sale of porcelain should cover the costs of the maintenance of the Porcelain Factory, which in the old times brought a significant deficit. It was decided to sell porcelain in the b. shop br. Kornilovs (in Petrograd on Nevsky Prospekt). Despite the relatively high prices, all the porcelain products that came to the store were sold without a surplus and the proceeds covered all production costs.
Before Porcelain Factory had to write out from abroad and paint. At present, he produces paints by his own means.
Particular attention is paid to inventions and improvements in the field of porcelain production. For this purpose, the plant has established a special prescription and library commission that collects and stores all sorts of technical information, recipes, instructions, etc., monitors all news of factory activities, supports discoveries and innovations in the technique of porcelain production.
Every worker, craftsman or artist working at the plant has the opportunity to get acquainted in all details with the technical side of the matter and at the same time submit to the prescription and library commission his ideas on improving this or that branch of production.
At the State Porcelain Factory, the Ceramic Institute is organized, which aims to study raw materials and their deposit.
In addition, the Ceramic Institute produces control tests of finished products, a critical study of existing methods
production, as well as a theoretical study of plant processes from the physico-chemical side.
The Supreme Scientific and Technical Supervision of the Institute’s activities belongs to the academic board comprising the director of the Institute (chairman of the college), his deputy, heads of departments and consultants. By occupation the Institute is divided into the following departments:
I. The ceramic department prepares test masses, molds products, burns them; produces various tests, both over raw materials, and over factories. 2. The glass department is engaged in the same as Ceramic in the field of glass-making. 3. The enamel and smalt department performs the same as the first two departments. 4. The chemical and metal department studies the physical and chemical properties of silicates, especially clay materials, using methods of mineralogical research, performs routine analyzes and solves scientific problems associated with the production of porcelain. 5. The physical department determines the coefficients of expansion, porosity, electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, etc. properties.
Satisfying, first of all, the requests of the State Porcelain Factory, the Ceramic Institute also executes instructions from other institutions of the Mint, the Institute of Archaeological Technology, the Komsomol, and so on.
Despite many difficulties, burdening all kinds of activity in modern conditions of life, the Porcelain Factory managed to develop productive work. The number of compositions performed by artists of the Porcelain Factory in the period 1917-21, reaches several thousand. Some of the products were sold completely, partly sold, partly distributed to various institutions and individuals. In this way.
it is impossible to compile a complete set of products, it is also impossible to compile an exhaustive catalog.
To replenish the museum of the Porcelain Factory and to create a special museum of the art industry, the factory management decided to purchase the old porcelain. In 1918 and 1919, Mr .. many purchases were made, replenished the museum with fine examples of products of the Elizabethan and Catherine era. It was also possible to assemble an excellent collection of modern porcelain, not exhausting, however, the whole history of the latest porcelain production.
At a review of the Museum of the Porcelain Factory, there is a striking difference in the character of the old and new porcelain. The difference of modern techniques from the previous ones is especially striking due to the fact that the showcase with the products of 1917-21 was placed in the middle of the hall, on the walls of which there are showcases with porcelain from the times of Elizabeth, Catherine, Paul, Alexander I, etc. Items separated from each other for more than a century and a half, topographically separated by a distance of several steps: it is difficult to imagine a more expressive, almost stunning contrast.
Not only the tastes and techniques of artists have changed, it seems, has changed the attitude towards porcelain, its understanding. Without a verbal commentary, the change in worldviews, the evolution of aesthetic beliefs, the logical development of artistic ideals, is revealed visually and convincingly in front of us in the museum of the Porcelain Factory. Before us is one of the most curious pages of Russian applied art, a true palimpsest of memories, a chronicle of Russian porcelain, which for a long time was under foreign influence and now gradually being freed from imitation. It is still too early to talk about the “self-determination” of Russian porcelain.The imitation has not yet emerged completely, it has only changed its character, Eastern motifs are being planted with the light hand of Chekhonin, talking about Persian and Caucasian patterns.
There is also no connection with Western Europe, that if in the era of Catherine we were influenced by the style of Louis XVI, and under Alexander I-Empire, now our porcelain is infected with futuristic tendencies, in this respect, the influence of the IZO, who diligently imbues futurism in all areas of art, is very noticeable. In this case, something new, unique, undoubtedly introduced into the modern products of the Porcelain Factory, there is a shift, so there are new searches leading to unused opportunities.
It is remarkable that some little-known and insignificant artists, having devoted themselves to work at the Porcelain Factory, have become excellent ceramists, having created a number of things of prime importance. This is explained by the fact that they succeeded, through specialization, through pure experimentation and persistent “re-education”, to master the technical secrets of production, to comprehend its features.
The artist, accustomed to easel painting, has to go through a lengthy skill in order to acquire a snapshot in porcelain painting, to learn how to freely master the technique of writing, which in this case requires the observance of special techniques conditioned by the nature of the material. For example, we point out that not all colors can be written on porcelain, as on paper: some paints require continuous, non-stop running of the smear.
It is also necessary to know what colors change when firing products and how they change so that color effects can be foreseen in advance after firing the painted porcelain things. The use of the tools used for the work also requires detailed practical study. Essential is the preparation of paints for writing, which was not just so strictly observed in the old days.
The cleanliness and freshness of the paint is preserved after firing is best when the paints were previously subjected to repeated grinding (for perfect grinding). It is also necessary to reckon with the amount of oil, as with excess oil, it boils up when firing things, which can cause the hatching of the paint. All this can be assimilated only by direct experiment, to which only an artist specializing in ceramics can give himself completely.
Recently, the Porcelain Factory went on to make things for one firing. This method was practiced in the old days, afterwards it was abandoned. It forces the masters to be more careful to paint and finish painting from one time, since underpaintings and straightening (in the interval between the first and subsequent firing) with one-time firing are impossible. Painting without amendments, at the same time, requires more attention and tension on the part of the artist, which is rewarded by the quality of work that wins in terms of freshness and integrity.
The special “training” of artists, which is now paid special attention, aims to revive the technical perfection that distinguished the works of ancient masters.Who of the porcelain lovers do not know the depth and beauty of the watering of Elizabethan porcelain? The colors of watering differed in the olden time with amazing juiciness, warmth, almost Fairly points out Iv. Lazarevsky in the article “Porcelain” (“Among collectors,” 2nd edition, Petrograd, 19×7), that the art of ancient irrigation remains to this day not outdone accounts for only regret is that it seems irretrievably lost “time-rich beautiful tone, full of nobility, and now, the sharpness of coloring and relatively considerable rudeness themselves paints” -. says Yves. Lazarevsky, and one can not disagree with him that “none of the most brilliant modern works will replace the sweet intimate beauty of porcelain products of the distant past.”
The State Porcelain Factory contributes to the cultural construction of the revitalized Russia: it serves the art, which in our time does not suffer a lot from all kinds of vacillations and fermentations. The more important is the responsibility of the leaders of the artistic part of the Plant, that in the near future the Plant intends to abandon technical works and completely turn to artistic assignments. In recent years, the number of technical products has been overwhelmingly dominant: in 1920.
The plant produced 200,000 technical products and only 2,000 art items. In the current year, the capacity of the plant was of the same nature: 109,000 technical products and 2,000 artifacts were produced. Now it is supposed to bring the output of art products to 20,000 items per year.
We see, therefore, that the Porcelain Factory is distinguished, on the one hand, by great adaptability to the imperative requirements of the moment, and, on the other hand, it realizes the importance of its direct tasks and, at the first opportunity, eliminates the temporary bias from serving the art.
In conclusion, it is necessary to dwell on the personality and activity of SV Chekhonin, who is the chief director of the artistic work of the Porcelain Factory. Not one Porcelain Factory owes to Chekhonin: the artist’s merits are wider, and porcelain painting is only one side of his many-sided creativity. In the field of decorative and “chamber” painting, and especially in the field of graphics, Chekhonin won the reputation of an artist of an exceptionally gifted, subtle stylist, an inventive and thoughtful draftsman.We do not have the opportunity, within our theme devoted to the work of the Porcelain Factory, to touch all aspects of Chekhonin’s creativity Therefore, we will dwell mainly on those aspects of his activities that are closely related to our topic.
In 1904, still quite a young man, V. Chekhonin was engaged in ceramic works in the Abramtsevo workshop of Mamontov in Moscow, on Butyrki. PK Vaulin, with whom Chekhonin worked on the facade of the Metropol home, was in charge of it, part of the facade of this house (mosaic balconies and panels) were made according to the drawings of Chekhonin.  When Vaulin organized his own workshop in Kikerin in 1907, Chekhonin continued The first ceramic work of Chekhonin in St. Petersburg was the majolica fresco of Michael the Archangel on the Church of the Moscow Regiment (Samsonievsky Prospekt) and the majolica fresco on the church in commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the Romanovs’ house (Fedorovsky Compound on Polt After the second All-Russian handicraft exhibition (1913), Chekhonin was invited by an art department specialist to the Ministry of Agriculture and took charge of the school of enamels in Rostov, where the students worked on his sketches and learned from him a miniature on enamel During this period, Chekhonin created a series of miniatures on enamel, achieving a high degree of elegance and subtlety of technique.Management of the studio Chekhonin continued until 1917, when he moved to the number of prominent employees of the Department of Fine Arts under the People’s Commissariat for Education and took charge of the art department of the Porcelain Factory.
The first work performed by Chekhonin for the Porcelain Factory was an anniversary dish, ordered by October 25, 1918 (the coat of arms of RSFSR in colors). Then followed the plates with monograms and slogans adorned with polychrome ornaments, cups, sets, etc. In decorating porcelain, Chekhonin began to use “tsirovka” (engraving on gold) often and in large numbers, which was neglected in the old days, treating it as an appendage to painting Chekhonin drew special attention to the cirque, made it an equivalent painting, in his opinion, the plant produced several items in which engraving on gold predominates over painting.
The last works of Chekhonin include the painting of a tea service with a cornucopia and a sheaf (graphics with gold), a series of symbolic polychrome plates, using enamels for dark cobalt (urn for crematorium, etc.).
Chekhonin’s painting on porcelain and his own graphics – phenomena of different orders, but internal-related.
If it is allowed to talk about works of art in terms of “elementary empiricism, about the drawings of Chekhonin, one can say that their main features are sharpness and dryness. Acuity is not in the sense of rigid prickliness, mannered and unpleasant, but in the sense of sophistication and special clarity of form. Chekhonin – an artist sharp and vigilant it is directed primarily towards fixing lines, outlines.
Everything is vague and vague for him unbearable. Perhaps his attraction to bright, sonorous colors is also associated with antipathy to everything vague, unspoken. There is something extremely complete in his schedule: no one of his composition can not add anything, they are loaded to the limit. This completeness, characteristic of the schedule of Chekhonin, was expressed in his painting on porcelain by a phenomenon of the same order, but of a different external appearance, in the saturation of the tones, in the “saturation” of the colors, while Chekhonin’s painting does not fall into a crying whimsy and intrusive variegation. “Healthy” color, smiling cheerful color scheme.
The aesthetic flair, the artistic tact that distinguishes Chekhonin’s graphics, did not change the artist in his “porcelain” works: he rejected with unerring confidence everything that does not correspond to the nature of porcelain, which does not fit in with the individuality of this material, and only a very unsophisticated viewer will not see the difference between the graphics of Chekhonin and his painting on porcelain.Of course, in the one and the other area the same stylistic manners were manifested, because they are determined by the taste and inclinations of the artist. But just as there can be the same The new manners of people speaking different languages and different languages, the graphics and porcelain of Chekhonin, having received a general “upbringing”, are expressed, however, in different adverbs and noticeably avoid common themes.
Chekhonin managed to decipher the graphics for porcelain, create a special “porcelain” graphics.In the graphical “Naps et noir” he introduced paint and gilding. But one such “addition” would not be enough: Chekhonin managed to adapt his drawings to the spirit of porcelain things, nobody before him had the slightest idea to transform the graphics in this direction, to arouse it with porcelain.There are several works by Lansere that represent a simple transfer of graphic techniques on porcelain, is “transplantation”, but not the transformation of graphics. Lancere transferred book ornaments to porcelain, ignoring the difference in the nature of paper and ceramics. His schedule, so to speak, is not “porcelainized.” Chekhonin “offarfor” graphics and this is his credit.
The construction of the “bridge” from graphics to porcelain was made easier for Chekhonin by the fact that he had been working graphically and doing ceramics for a long time continuously and in parallel, in both areas he managed to achieve remarkable results. some of the scatteredness, anxiety, incoherence of his picturesque compositions on porcelain.The fine concentration characteristic of his book graphics is rarely found in his porcelain painting.
This shortcoming is largely redeemed the painter’s colors, and the originality of the composition.The artist does not reject extraneous influences, because they correspond to his artistic worldview.In 1904-5 he experienced a fascination with majolica frescoes, old icon painting, Russian art, and became interested in the East. Now he is not alien to him, their imprint is noticeable on many porcelain things that come out from under his brush.
Much less influence on the creativity of Chekhonin Western European art, but its impact has not passed without a trace.
When he was in Paris in 1906, the artist got acquainted with the works of Cezanne, Matisse, Van Gogh and other fashionable artists at the time.
They made an unimpressive impression on him, which explains the “leftism” of certain works by Chekhonin.
All the creativity of Chekhonin, beginning from early youth to the present day, is inspired by the persistent search for imperishable beauty, enduring artistic truth. The book and porcelain were all life subjects of his love and tender care. His work aimed at decorating the book and porcelain can not yet be fully appreciated: firstly, it is not finished, and secondly, we are too close to it to judge objectively. But already now we can say with confidence that among the works of Chekhonin there are works that will never die for those who love art.