A Russian gilded silver, cloisonné, and guilloché enamel cigarette case, Grachev, St. Petersburg, circa 1895. Rounded rectangular, both sides of the case centered with quatrefoil reserves enameled deep strawberry red over an engine-turned ground, the translucent enamel with brightly colored bouquets of polychrome paillons, all reserved on a stippled gilt ground with colorful scrolling foliage in cloisonné within a border of turquoise lappets. Dimensions: 3 7/8 x 2 5/8 in. (9.5 x 7 cm).
A paillon is a thin sheet of foil, usually silver or gold, placed between layers of enamel. On this case the strawberry red transparent enamel was applied over the engine-turned ground and polished. The delicate gold leaves and blossoms, some apparently enameled or otherwise colored, were then laid down and another layer of clear enamel was carefully applied to avoid movement of the delicate foils or creation of air bubbles. The piece was then fired once again and the surface polished to a high gleam. Working with paillons is painstaking, difficult work. While the firm of Ovchinnikov often applied tiny stars on the lappet borders of their works, an extensive decorative scheme like this bouquet is found only rarely.
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