C1900 Russian Enamel on Silver Kovsch by Maria Semenova


Only 7 cm long, 4.3 cm wide and 3.2 cm tall, this tiny gem of Imperial Russian silverwork is by Maria Semenova, one of the few female silversmiths in the Russian Empire. She was the daughter of Vasilli Semenov and inherited his company in 1896. Like Hester Batemen, and Faberge, Maria sat at her desk and administered the company. None of them actually made anything themselves. This is why the silversmith's mark is often called the sponsor's mark. Nevertheless Maria Semenova guided her workshop's production and demanded high standards so her work is highly regarded, and consequently faked, today. We can guarantee this is a genuine example (since we are a shop and not an auction, for a start!) The kovsch is a symbolic shape used in many sizes for salts such as this, beer cups, punch bowls, and impossibly complicated ceremonial ones that have no practical function. These magnificent items are descended form humble carved wood beer dippers. This splendid example is hallmarked for Moscow, 1899-1908, with Ivan Lebedkin as assay master. The silver standard is the usual 84 zolotniks (87.5%) The twisted wires soldered onto the vessel form cloisonnes or cells, some of which are filled with finely painted enamels. The gilded reserves in the cells not filled with enamel are gilded over a pounced finish. There is a tiny abrasion, misfire or repair to the enamel near the prow: visible under a 10x loupe.

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