Pavel Ovchinnikov was one of Russia’s greatest silversmiths. Besides this claim to fame he was also instrumental in reviving traditional enameling techniques, such as champleve, filigree enamel (a variation of cloisonne in which the wires are twisted), and plique-a-jour (a variation of filigree enamel in which there is no backing behind the enamel, so that light shines through as in stained glass). Ovchinnikov founded a workshop in Moscow in 1853 which grew rapidly into a factory. Its works were exhibited regularly at international expositions in the second half of the century. One of the American commissioners for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 singled out the Russian enamels by Ovchinnikov’s firm, saying that the “opaque enameled objects, in ancient Byzantine style, were very noticeable from the beauty of the forms and the great richness of the coloring. Two of his works recently sold on GoAntiques.com
A magnificent trompe d’oeuil cigarette case by Ovchinnikov was purchased through GoAntiques.com for $14,000. Designed to resemble a folded cloth adorned with decorations, the case reflects the mastery of the silversmith’s art. The very body of the silver was made to resemble a woven cloth and the enamel decorations resemble the embroidery that was so often used. Marked in the interior Ovchinnikov in cyrillic with the Imperial warrant, as well as the assayer’s mark: AK. It has St. George for Moscow. A museum quality piece!
Another case by Ovchinnikov, was also purchased for $4,500. This piece was in the form of an irregular cube in beater silver with insects and plants. The top lifted off and was in the form of a highly elaborate brocaded tablecloth or Persian carpet with fringe.