Recently purchased by the Museum at the Tennants auction in the UK, three caviar dishes of the Raphael Service (see right and below, click to enlarge) now bring the pieces of the most impressive imperial porcelain set in our collection to a total of seven.
‘Just a couple of years ago, we could not even dream of having a whole set of pieces of the Raphael Service. This magnificent porcelain ensemble, conceived and manufactured for Tsarskoye Selo, had not been presented on our display at all. Rarely auctioned, several of its pieces were put up at different auction houses in a row recently. We could not resist the temptation and were lucky to win. Now our collection holds a cup and saucer duo, a plate, and four caviar dishes, all made in different years. We can now start looking for other types of pieces of this porcelain masterpiece’, says Iraida K. Bott, Tsarskoye Selo deputy director for research and education.
Designed for serving oysters and seafood, caviar dishes became an integral part of the Russian imperial table setting in the nineteenth century. All the three purchased shell-resembling pieces have cartouche handles. Typically for this service, they show the Raphael Rooms-inspired ornamental and allegorical compositions with arabesques, leaf garlands and mythical characters in roundels and figural reserves. According to the gold and red bottom marks, the caviar dishes were made in 1900 and 1902 (see right, click to enlarge).
The seven piece set in our collection will be used in exhibitions and on display at the Catherine Palace.