first letter IF PORCELAIN COULD TALK...( part III).
by Dasha Demourova
"Russian Life" magazine
In the Soviet era, porcelain became a vehicle of revolutionary ideas. Peaceful landscapes, antique and flower ornaments, fantastic Chinese motives, and pastoral pictures were replaced by hammers and sickles, smoke-puffing factories, the worker and collective farm woman, busts of Karl Marx, figurines of Red Army soldiers, a woman sewing the Soviet Flag and others (needless to say, early Soviet-era porcelains have become hot items at recent auctions). Luxurious table settings were replaced with simple white porcelain plates with "RSFSR" (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) or "The Victory of the Working Masses!" In 1927, to mark the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution, a jug was produced with the Roman numeral X and a picture of a worker with a hammer

However, for a time, porcelain was also used as a material for implementing a new trend in art, Suprematism, which emerged around Kazimir Malevich. It used pure geometric forms and conveyed no ideology whatsoever. From 1917-1928 the factory was managed by Sergey Chekhonin, a talented graphic painter who was the first to use such symbols as the hammer and sickle and bundles of wheat, which later appeared as part of the Soviet national emblem. In 1925, to celebrate the bicentennial of the Russian Academy of Science, the factory was renamed after the great Russian scientist, Mikhail Lomonosov. During the years of Khrushchev's Thaw, the extreme decoration and pomposity of porcelain during Stalin's period was rejected in favor of a renewed interest in simpler, white porcelain. Experimental shapes and even constructivism were also characteristic of that era. Most notably, at that time a new technology was invented that allowed for production of fine alabaster (bone) porcelain, characterized by greater whiteness and transparency.

The Lomonosov Porcelain Factory has survived the post-Soviet economic revolution with remarkable success, and now produces over 500 items, including tea, coffee and dinner services, souvenir items, plates and dishes, vases, decorative trays, etc, that are made of solid, soft or alabaster (bone) porcelain, with over- and under-glaze decoration, often handmade. One reason for this success was foreign investment. In 1993, the Lomonosov Factory was privatized, with 64% of shares initially going to foreign investors. A few years ago, however, Galina Tsvetkova, a well-known collector of porcelain and wife of the president of energy giant Nikoil, received a 26% share in the company as a birthday present, to which she later added 30% bought from The US-Russia Investment Fund, giving her control of the Factory. On the site of the factory there is a Porcelain Museum, which features a collection of items produced by the factory from the middle of the 18th century to the present day. In 1993, the museum, founded in 1844 to mark the factory's 100th anniversary, was included as part of the Museum Fund of Russia, yet its legal status remained uncertain until the collection was attached to the Hermitage in 2001. As a result, today, the factory can produce high quality copies of items from the Hermitage collection, using both the LFZ trademark and the Hermitage logo. ... to be continued
© 2004, Russian Life magazine, all rights reserved. Reprinted here with permission of the publisher.
Photos are provided by Russian State Hermitage Museum
"Russian Life" magazine
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