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Archangel Casket

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An fine eighteenth century casket overlaid with pierced and carved walrus bone, the lid with a design of a couple, seated and facing each other, a huge vase between them full of flowers. The four sides are covered with fine fretwork panels, the whole box lifted on small feet. 

The void interior is finished with a pink paper and this box retains its original key. Russian, Archangel, circa 1780. 

11 3/8 in x 9 3/8 in x 3 ¼ in  

The indigenous art of Russian bone carving is inseparably linked with the whaling port of Arkhangielsk (Archangel). 

The region of Kholmogory is located some 40 miles from Archangel, up the Dvina River in the Russian North, and emerged during the 17th century as the principle centre of Russian bone and ivory carving, using the raw material taken from the traditional walrus hunt on the White and Barents Seas.

From the mid 17th century ‘the best carving masters from Kholmogory’ were summoned to Moscow to work in the Kremlin Armory producing fine works largely intended as presentation gifts to high ranking persons, including gifts to the tsar himself. In 1711 Peter the Great moved the workshop to St. Petersburg and from 1712 this new workshop was under the direction of one Andrei Nartov, who invented, installed and developed machinery of ever increasing sophistication, especially for ornamental turning. The workshop flourished throughout the reigns of both Peter and Catherine the Great, both monarchs being enthusiastic turners, enjoying what was then the preferred pastime of the European aristocracy.

Meanwhile, in Kholmogory, ivory and bone carving continued unabated, the best known and most characteristic products being the delicately carved bone boxes such as this, usually referred to as caskets. 

With thanks to Stuart M. Frank, Ph.D., for much of the above content.     



Item Code: 5154

£ 2950

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