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Kholmogory Games Box

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An eighteenth century Russian games box overlaid with pierced and carved walrus bone with a design of a couple hunting amongst foliage, the sides with fretwork panels, standing on a small feet with a plinth of formal drapes. 

8 1/2 in x 6 7/8 in x 2 5/8 in 

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ‘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 for much of the above content.     



Item Code: 4690

£ 2400

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