Tea set

ARTIST / MAKER: Feodor Yartsev (maker)
DATE: 1874 (made)
PLACE: Moscow (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver-gilt, decorated in niello

This parcel-gilt silver tea set includes a teapot, sugar bowl, milk jug, tray, sugar tongs and a spoon. The service is decorated with nielloed oval reserves on a background of foliate arabesques in the ‘Old Russian Style’. During the late 19th century, traditional forms of decoration became especially fashionable in Russia due to the trend for ‘national’ styles in the decorative arts. The set features architectural vistas and depictions of troika, a traditional Russian harness driving combination in which three horses pull a cart or sleigh. Niello is created when a mixture of silver, lead, copper and sulphur, which has a low melting point, is used to fill incised decorations on silver. Russian firms such as Khlebnikov and Ovchinnikov produced many tea, coffee and vodka sets decorated using this technique. They also retailed sets made by contract silversmiths such as Yartsev, who created this tea set.