ARTIST / MAKER: E.P.R. (maker) unidentified
DATE: 1896-1908 (made)
PLACE: Russia (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver, cloisonné enamel

This teapot is decorated with cloisonné enamels, a technique which became widely used among Russian silversmiths in the second half of the 19th century. A wire framework is soldered onto the metal surface to form cells (‘cloisons’). These cells are filled with coloured glass powder, which under intense heat fuses to form a glassy surface. The process is repeated several times to allow for the shrinkage of materials before it is polished to a high sheen. This technique is known to have been employed in the Kievan Rus (now Belarus, Russia and Ukraine) since the 11th century, when it was referred to as finift or ‘shining stone’.

The teapot bears the maker’s mark of E.P.R, a craftsman working in Moscow from 1899-1908. Although their identity remains unknown, existing examples of their work demonstrate the quality of the workshop’s output. The swirling blossoms attest to the revival of traditional Russian styles, which merged Turkish, Persian and Medieval European influences. This revival coincided with a renewed sense of national pride among the conservative middle and merchant classes in Russia, with whom such intricately decorated silver wares were fashionable until the early 20th century.