A Russian Imperial porcelain Easter egg with a miniature of the Archangel Michael, Imperial Porcelain Factory, St. Petersburg, late 1850s to 1860s. The front of the egg centered with a miniature of the Archangel St. Michael represented as a warrior in Classical armor carrying a fiery sword and shield, his wings represented in subtle tones against the darkening clouds in the background, the miniature signed at lower right with Cyrillic initials N.V. (Н.В.) for Imperial Porcelain Factory painter N. Voronin, the miniature within a gilt border of scrolls and lattice work, engraved St. Michael (Св-ой Михаилъ) in Cyrillic at the top, the back of the egg with a finely engraved ciselé radiating star in an acanthus leaf border. Height 3 1/2 in. (9 cm).
The Imperial Porcelain Factory produced a range of different eggs for members of the Imperial family to give as gifts at Easter. The most labor intensive and expensive were those with figurative miniature painting with scenes of church festivals or images of saints, often copied from Old Master paintings in the Imperial collections or more recent paintings by prominent contemporary painters such as Timothy Neff. The eggs were extremely costly and the factory usually produced no more than 40 or 50 each year. On Easter eggs with images of saints from this period, see Tamara Kudriavtseva and Harold Whitbeck, Russian Imperial Porcelain Easter Eggs. Русские императорские фарфоровые пасхальные яйцa (London: Merrell, 2001), pp. 20-21, 98-127.
N. Voronin was a painter of miniatures at the Imperial Porcelain Factory active between about 1830-1860. An egg with a variant of this miniature is reproduced in Kudriavtseva and Whitbeck, idem, no. 90, p. 124. For an Imperial Porcelain Easter egg with a miniature of St. Gregory the Theologian by Voronin, see idem, no. 113, pp. 148-149.
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