Tea caddy

ARTIST / MAKER: Fabergé (retailer)
DATE: 1908-1917 (made)
PLACE: Russia (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver-gilt and cloisonné enamel with internal cork stopper

This tea caddy was made by the celebrated Russian workmaster Feodor Rückert, who specialised in the production of cloisonné enamels for the firm of Fabergé. A celebrated enameller, Rückert sold works through other large firms such as Ovchinnikov as well as through his own account, and was renowned for his use of bold and personal designs and colour schemes. From around 1908, Rückert began to use muted colours such as yellow, blue, olive green and lavender, which can be seen on this tea caddy. This became characteristic of his work up until his death in 1917.

The design features a stylised bird surrounded by stylised blossoms and foliage, blending Byzantine ornament with decorative elements typical of the Pan-Slavic Revival. This revival was brought about by Russian craftsmen from the mid-19th to the beginning of the 21st century, who turned to Russia’s rich medieval ornament for inspiration. The caddy characterises Feodor Rückert’s later work, as he incorporates a geometric and almost abstract ornament inspired by the Wiener Werkstätte and Art Nouveau. Fabergé’s later technical innovation of translucent enamels against a foil backdrop are visible in the orange and rust red areas.