Tea caddy

ARTIST / MAKER: Maria Semenova (manufacturer)
DATE: 1899-1908 (made)
PLACE: Moscow (made)

Each side of this tea caddy is decorated with a different view of an important Moscow landmark. These views include Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Church of Christ the Saviour, Trinity Gate and the Kremlin Palace. Each scene is set within a border of foliate arabesques in the Old Russian style; traditional Russian decoration which experienced a revival in the 19th century. Niello, which has been used to decorate this caddy, is also a traditional technique practiced in parts of Russia from the 10th century and is created when a mixture of silver, lead, copper and sulphur, which has a low melting point, is used to fill incised patterns on silver. Maria Semenova was one of the few women who owned a silversmithing and enamelling workshop in Russia at the end of the 19th century. She had inherited her father’s workshop after his death in 1896 and went on to specialise in the production of exquisite silver pieces decorated in niello and hand crafted enamels.