Tea spoons

ARTIST / MAKER: Feodor Ruckert (maker)
DATE: 1899-1908 (made)
PLACE: Russia (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver-gilt and cloisonné enamels

The strongest tea culture to emerge during the 19th century was in Russia, where tea was valued for its ability to help counter the cold climate. Tea was first introduced to Russia in the early 1600s, but it was not until the mid-19th century that Russian merchants were permitted to import tea by ship from Canton, allowing imports to rise steadily and prices to fall, making tea more affordable for the middle and lower classes. Of central importance to the Russian tea ceremony was a richly decorated tea set and accompaying utensils.

Teaware decorated with cloisonné enamels in bright colours became especially fashionable in Russia, due to the revival of traditional techniques and ornament in Russian decorative arts known as Pan-Russian and Pan-Slavic styles. This set of six tea spoons were made by the celebrated Russian workmaster Feodor Rückert. Renowned for his bold designs and skill in shaded enamelling, Rückert ran an independant workshop in Moscow and sold his work through larger firms such as Fabergé and Ovchinnikov.