Antique Russian Cloisonné Enamel Kovsh

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Antique Russian gilded silver and cloisonné enamel kovsh, in shades of blue and white. The interior of the kovsh is decorated with the double-headed Imperial eagle, a symbol of the Romanov dynasty. The body of the vessel is finished with a crown-like finial.

Moscow, ca. 1890

Length:  3-5/8 inches; height: 2-3/8 inches

$14,000

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Russian Antique 11th Artel Enamel Kovsh

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Gilded silver and shaded and cloisonné enamel kovsh with geometric and floral motifs on a blue ground. A kovsh is a traditional Russian drinking cup, originally carved out of wood in the form of a duck. In this decorative kovsh, the bird-like form is clearly evident.

By the 11th Artel, Moscow, ca. 1910
Length: 4-1/8 inches; height: 2 inches

$18,500

Russian Antique 11th Artel Enamel Kovsh

ALVR Blog: Consider the Kovsh

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Enamel and Gilded Silver Kovsh

Pictured above is an ornamental ladle called a kovsh, a type of Russian drinking vessel in the shape of a duck. Traditionally, various vessels were intended for different beverages. Kovshi, which come in a range of sizes, were intended for drinking kvass or beer. They were also used for drinking mead, a honey based drink that varied in flavor from using different fruits and berries. Silver kovshi were used for white mead, while golden kovshi were used for red mead.

They were originally made of wood and some early kovshi were made of tightly woven cloth.  In the 16th century, they began to be made in silver and increasingly assumed a ceremonial status. The kovshi in our collection are nineteenth and early twentieth century pieces of the Old Russian style, seen in the multicolored enameling inspired by sixteenth and seventeenth-century patterns. A yearning for a Russian art unmarred by Western influence contributed to what became the Russian Revival in the 1870s and 1880s. Interest in exploring early Russian artistic traditions provided craftsmen with a rich body of sources for creating beautiful, distinctly Russian works of art. Cloisonné enameling is but one example; another is trompe l’oeil, discussed in this blog post. While many such pieces were ornamental, a few could function as punch bowls or salts depending on their size.

These pieces illustrate how time and again the functional and artistic merits of the decorative arts can be appreciated both independently and harmoniously.

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