Tea caddy

ARTIST / MAKER: 9th Artel (maker)
DATE: 1908-1917 (made)
PLACE: Moscow (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver, parcel-gilt and niello

This silver tea caddy was made in Moscow by the 9th Artel, a term used to designate the various cooperative associations of craftsmen living and working together in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, between the 1860s and 1950s. Silver artels were renowned for producing unique and high quality works of art. The multi-panel gourd-shaped body of this silver tea caddy is intricately decorated with finely worked geometric and scrolling foliate motifs in niello, against a stippled ground intersected by gilt ribs. The lid is similarly decorated and fitted with its original cork stopper. Niello wares, such as this piece, were often decorated with patterns drawn from Islamic works of art such as scrolling foliage and plants. The 9th Artel produced pieces in the Art Nouveau and traditional Russian styles.