A Russian gilded silver, cloisonné, & guilloché enamel cigarette case, Grachev, St. Petersburg, 1904-1908. Of rectangular form with rounded corners, the exterior of the case decorated with a shaped shield enameled translucent sky blue over an engine-turned ground & applied with red & green enameled gold paillons of ribbon-tied floral swags, all reserved within a pattern of blue, green, & red scrolling foliage against a gilded stippled ground, the gilt interior engraved with a scrolling monogram, the case contained in its original silk- & velvet-lined fitted wood box with the interior lining stamped with the gilt Cyrillic letters reading Br[others] Grachev S. Peterburg. Struck with maker’s mark, Cyrillic initials AP, & 88 silver standard. Dimensions: 3 3/8 x 3 in. (8.6 x 7.6 cm).
A paillon is a thin sheet of foil, usually silver or gold, placed between layers of enamel. On this case the rich sky blue transparent enamel was applied over the engine-turned ground & polished. The delicate gold leaves, blossoms, & ribbons, some slightly sculpted or colored with enamels, were then laid down & 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 & the surface polished to a high gleam. Working with paillons is painstaking, difficult work; complex decorative schemes like these floral swags created with paillons are seen only occasionally. The initials AP, a mark that appears frequently on Grachev’s enameled pieces, are thought to be those of Alexander Feodorovich Petrov (?-1904), who, together with his sons Nikolai Alexandrovich (?-1918) & Dmitry Alexandrovich (?-?), were the chief enamelers for the firm of Fabergé after 1895. Fabergé’s designer Frants Birbaum, author of a memoir recalling the history & work of the firm, described Nikolai Petrov as “most probably the best enameller in Russia.” On the family, see Tatiana F. Fabergé, Eric-Alain Kohler & Valentin V. Skurlov, Fabergé:A Comprehensive Reference Book, Génève: Editions Slatkine, 2012,pp. 238, 300-302, 371. The skill of the enameling suggests that it certainly should be attributed to Alexander Petrov.
Subscribe to receive our newsletter and new acquisitions