Yusupov porcelain was produced for less than 20 years (from 1815 to 1831), but left a noticeable mark in the history of Russian porcelain. It was created not for commercial purposes, but to replenish the collection of the prince and gifts to noble persons. This ensured the highest artistic level of Arkhangelsk porcelain, comparable in quality to the best examples of Western manufactories. Today Yusupov’s porcelain has become a rarity, which is almost never found on sale. The items can be seen in the collections of the Arkhangelskoye estate and other museums.
History of the Yusupov porcelain factory
Nikolai Borisovich Yusupov took up porcelain at the age of 60, when he left government service and acquired an estate in the village of Arkhangelskoye near Moscow. At that time, the prince owned a large collection of works of art, and in the past he traveled extensively in Europe and headed the Imperial Porcelain Factory. He had all the necessary knowledge to organize a workshop and a clear idea of what his porcelain should be like.
The exact moment of the establishment of the workshop is unknown, but it is likely that it already existed in 1814. The earliest date put down by this company was found on the “Horseman” plate from the State Russian Museum collection. On its bottom there is an inscription: “1815 Oct 21”. In any case, the first few years of work were preparatory. The workshop was gaining strength, serfs worked in it, future artists underwent training. Initially, Yusupov only planned to paint porcelain products, buying linen from other manufacturers. The base was purchased from the best Russian and foreign factories – IPE, Popov and Gardner factories. Meissen, Vienna and Sevres factories.
The most famous serf artist was Ivan Kolesnikov. For some time he even headed the enterprise, was engaged in the purchase of linen and paints, taught young craftsmen and painted dishes himself.
In 1821 Kolesnikov fell ill and soon died. Then Yusupov invited the French artist August Philippe Lambert, who had previously worked at the Sevres manufactory. With his arrival, the Yusupov workshop entered a period of prosperity. Under Lambert, a new factory building was built, the range of produced porcelain increased and its quality increased. There were more students, they improved the technique and began to apply more complex ornaments. Some of the products were made entirely on their own, experiments with faience were also carried out.
Yusupov’s workshop operated until 1831. After the death of the prince, his son decided to close all the enterprises on the estate that did not bring in income, including the production of crystal and a silk weaving factory. But the production of highly artistic faience continued until 1839, since Lambert rented a faience factory for 9 years.
What kind of porcelain was produced in Arkhangelsk?
At the initial stages, the students painted dishes, copying the work of the Sevres and Vienna manufactories. But they did not create an accurate imitation. New elements were added to the patterns of European masters, so that the pattern turned out to be unique. Most often, floral motifs or mythological scenes served as decoration. Many items were covered with abundant gilding and engraving on gold, which is typical of the Empire style.
Objects of art from the Yusupov collection were used as samples for painting. For example, this is how a large series of “Roses” plates were created with drawings copied from the three-volume French atlas Lesroses edited by the botanist Pierre-Joseph Redouté. The flower was very reliably depicted in the center of the plate, under it was an inscription in French with the name of the variety, and the edges were decorated with gold ornament of leaves and bells.
Another example of transferring artistic images to porcelain is a series of plates with images of the village of Gruzino, Novgorod province. They were designed after lithographs by Ivan Semenov.
Stamps and hallmarks of Yusupov porcelain
Before the arrival of Lambert, stamps were not put on Arkhangelsk porcelain at all, not counting the hallmarks of Popov and Gardner on the blanks. Therefore, it is difficult to accurately identify early products. The only known exception is the one already mentioned; a plate from the State Russian Museum with the year 1815 affixed. There was no need for stamps, because the dishes were not created for sale, but for private use.
Occasionally there are inscriptions indicating the work used for the painting. Or the number of the book page with the illustration.