Pavel Akimovich Ovchinnikov founded his Moscow firm in 1853. He was the first Russian silversmith to embrace the Pan-Slavic revival style, inspired by Medieval Russian ornament which had fallen out of fashion for several centuries. In 1865, his firm received the title of court supplier, allowing it to incorporate the imperial double eagle in its trademark. His work soon established his reputation as the leading producer of this type of cloisonné enamel in Moscow. Enamelled silver tableware was very popular with the conservative middle and merchant classes from the mid-19th century until the revolution in 1917.
This sugar box is embellished with cloisonné enamel decoration, achieved by applying glass paste to a metal surface. The design is outlined by metal fillets called ‘cloisons’ (cells), which are secured to the metal base. These enclosed spaces are filled with coloured glass powder, which are fired at high temperatures to melt and fuse them to the metal. Pieces by Ovchinnikov are typically decorated with geometrically arranged foliage in brilliant opaque colours.