Commissioned by Nicholas I for the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow, the Kremlin Service made use of ancient Russian patterns. Looking for non-Western sources of artistic inspiration, Nicholas entrusted the young scholar, Fedor Solntsev, to study and record the vast riches of Russia’s medieval past stored in the Kremlin Armory and other ancient sites.
Solntsev’s six-volume work became a manual of Russian medieval styles that had a lasting impact on Russian art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Kremlin Service was intended for coronations and other grand events. It was last used in 1913 at the Tercentenary dinner in the Kremlin to celebrate three hundred years of the House of Romanov.
Fedor Solntsev designed the Kremlin Service based on the cloisonné enamel and gold plates and dishes from the collections of the Kremlin Armory, made for Tsar Alexis (reigned 1645-76), father of Peter the Great. The Kremlin dessert plate is inscribed around the double-headed eagle in Cyrillic characters, “Nicholas Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias.”
The Kremlin Service consists of two parts, the White Service, used for soup, and the Gold Service, intended for dessert. It was made for five hundred people, with two thousand dinner plates, one thousand soup plates and one thousand dessert plates. Dessert services were always elaborate, while dinner sets could be modest, their main embellishment being the state coat-of-arms, the double-headed eagle.
The Kremlin Service is dated 1837-1838.