Guriev Service

The Guriev Service was created at the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St Petersburg between 1809 and 1816. The project was headed by local sculptor Stepan Pimenov. The first official state service created during the reign of Tsar Alexander I, the Guriev Service celebrated the Russian victory over Napoleon in 1812.

Originally called the “Service with Images of Russian Costumes” or the “Russian Service,” the objects were decorated with miniature paintings depicting tradesmen in traditional Russian attire. For the first time in the history of Russian applied art, famous landmarks in St Petersburg and genre scenes of life on the city streets were painted on all the pieces of an official palace service – plates, receptacles and the wine and ice-cream coolers. The miniature paintings of local traders and craftsmen were based on engravings by such leading contemporary artists as John Augustus Atkinson, Christian Gottfried Heinrich Geissler and Stepan Galaktionov.

In 1824, the service was renamed the Guriev Service after Count Dmitry Guriev (1751–1825), who was responsible at that time for the Imperial Porcelain Factory. Numbering over 4,500 objects, it was used for state receptions and imperial banquets at the Winter Palace and, from 1848, at Peterhof Palace. The service is now on permanent exhibition at the Catherine Block in Peterhof.

Between the mid-nineteenth century and 1917, the Guriev Service was constantly supplemented by new objects, replacing those which had been lost during use. Most of the new pieces were dessert plates. In keeping with the original concept, compositions with images of Russian traders and craftsmen were painted on the bottoms. The painters of the Imperial Porcelain Factory reproduced compositions from Ignatas Marius Schedrovsky’s lithographs for the Scenes from the Russian National Way of Life album (1852).

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