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A Russian porcelain Imperial Presentation Easter egg, Imperial Porcelain Factory, Saint Petersburg, after 1890. The oxblood glazed body ciselé varicolor gilt Imperial cypher of Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna beneath an Imperial crown. Height 3 1/2 in. (8.8 cm).
Oxblood glazes have their roots in lang-yao, a red glaze developed in Imperial China during the Ming Dynasty. When the first examples were imported to Europe, the intense red color was described as resembling crushed strawberries or the floor of a slaughterhouse & the rather gruesome name oxblood (sang de boeuf or бычья кровь) was adopted. European potters & chemists struggled to duplicate the glaze. Théodore Deck produced a version of it at Sèvres in the 1880s with great difficulty. The red color was a natural for decorating Easter eggs & by 1889 the Russian glaze experts had worked out their own version. One chemist sought to find a deep red glaze without the spots or stripes caused by the inclusion of copper compounds, but many in the period preferred the random colors & patterns that developed in the red & crystalline glazes. Both formulas were retained in the factory’s repertoire up until the end of the Romanov dynasty.
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