An Unusual Imperial Glassworks Color Test Tile, Sergei Petukhov, ST Petersburg, circa 1890. The tile of opaque turquoise glass with scattered areas of undissolved colorant, molded with the Imperial cypher of Emperor Alexander III flanked by the Cyrillic words ‘S.Peterburg’ and ‘S. Petukhov’ in an Old Slavonic script similar to the emperor’s initial in the cypher. Dimensions: 4 3/8 x 4” (11.2 x 10.1 cm).
Sergei Petrovich Petukhov (1842-1912) was a chemist whose skill at developing new colors for the production of glass, enamels, and mosaic secured for him the position of head of both the Artistic and Technical Departments of the Imperial Glassworks as well as head of the enamels and mosaic workshops of the Imperial Academy of Sciences. He served in these positions from 1869 to 1890 and remained at the newly formed Imperial Porcelain and Glass Manufactories until 1892. In 1888 he and a group of two other glass and enamel chemists were sent by the Imperial Academy of Arts to study the latest mosaic tile production techniques in France and Italy; mosaics were then being used in large-scale decoration of church decoration in St Petersburg. Petukhov’s group was reported to have developed formulas for 22,000 glass colors. He was so talented that he worked out an entirely new formula for purpurine, a densely opaque pure red glass that resembles a hardstone that vied with that produced by Fabergé. This tile is almost certainly one of a series of test blocks he made demonstrating new colors he had formulated. After his retirement from Imperial service, Petukhov continued to work developing new colors for mosaic technology. His 1898 book Steklodelie. Rukovodstvo dlia proizvodstv [Glassmaking: A Guidebook for Production], with an introduction by his colleague the renowned chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, was essential to the development of Russian glassmaking and today is a fascinating source for the history of glassmaking during the reign of Nicholas II.
On this tile, see Alla Chukanova, “Opak-blaue Glasplatte mit Monogramm Zar Alexander III. von Russland Kaiserliche Glas- und Porzellanmanufaktur St. Petersburg, Russland, 1881-1894 = Синий стеклянная пластина с монограммой императора Александра III. Императорский стеклянный завод в Санкт-Петербурге, Россия, 1881-1894,” Pressglass Korrespondenz 2015, no. 3: 1-23.
For additional information about this piece, please contact us.