Dinner with the Tsars: Russian Imperial Porcelain Opens November 14

The Museum of Russian Art’s (TMORA) newest exhibition highlights the remarkable private collection of a Wisconsin resident.

MINNEAPOLIS (October 15, 2010) – Opening November 14, 2010 at TMORA, Dinner with the Tsars: Russian Imperial Porcelain brings together approximately one hundred and forty superb examples of Russian porcelain wares produced at the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg during the rule of the Romanovs.  The beautifully crafted and hand painted objects on display will present visitors with examples of inspired decorative settings and tableware as the time for festive holiday season gatherings approaches.

The objects are drawn from one of North America’s premier private collections of Russian Imperial Porcelain. Mr. Raymond F. Piper became interested in antiques during his studies in London in the late 1960s. He frequented the fabled Portobello Road antique sellers to look for hidden treasures.  A schoolteacher before he retired, Mr. Piper devotes himself full time to collecting Russian porcelain.  His collection has been exhibited in over twenty venues including the Hillwood Museum in Washington, D. C., the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House and Museum in Michigan, and the Haggerty Museum in Arkansas.

From its inception in 1744 until the last days of the Romanovs in 1917, the Imperial Porcelain Factory produced beautiful dinnerware and decorative pieces for the royal homes of the Tsars. Additionally, the royal household requested special commissions for unique diplomatic gifts, dowry sets and other items.

Dinner with the Tsars: Russian Imperial Porcelain charts the history of imperial dining, featuring rare objects from palace dinner and dessert services used by the Romanovs for court functions and family meals.  Also featured are several menus for important royal receptions dating to the periods of Alexander III and Nicholas II. The Gardner and Kuznetsov porcelain factories will also be represented by several important pieces. The designs of the objects on display trace the changing fashions in porcelain decoration, sometimes influenced by German and French trends and other times featuring uniquely Russian patterns and motifs.

During Catherine the Great’s rule in the second half of the 18th century, all wares began to be marked with the ruling sovereign’s monogram. The objects on display will feature the monograms of Catherine the Great, her son Paul I, his two sons Alexander I and Nicholas I, as well as the latter’s son, grandson and great grandson Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II—the last of the Romanovs. Porcelain wares of the Russian tsarinas bearing their ciphers (stylized designs of interlacing initials) will also be shown. One of the earliest European porcelain manufacturers, the factory in St. Petersburg continues producing remarkable objects of decorative art to this day.


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