Saint Petersburg


China Tales


Several fabulously beautiful exhibitions featuring unexpected aspects of porcelain art can be seen in the Northern Capital this summer.

“Porcelain Flowers”

The Hermitage is staging a display of “Porcelain Flowers” in the Winter Palace’s Blackamoor Room. For the first time more than fifty floral compositions by the contemporary porcelain artist Vladimir Kanevsky will be on display to the general public. Kanevsky has devised his own technology for making china flowers and a style of execution which highlights the simplicity and naturalness of his chosen subjects.

The striking beauty of these porcelain flowers instantly attracts the attention of viewers and literally hypnotizes them. Vladimir Kanevsky begins his creative process by carefully selecting real flowers to copy. He then makes them in actual size, observing their natural proportions. Of particular interest are the flowers with small defects such as the trails of insects and caterpillars. These elements give the china plants not merely greater naturalness but also a definite charm and mood, as there is no superfluous idealism in the way they are portrayed. Kanevsky also makes vases and flowerpots with slight touches of “watercolour mould” and vessels richly decorated with original relief patterns, to which the sculptor also devotes great attention.

“Reality and Magic”

There is another beautiful exhibition in the Hermitage: “Reality and Magic” in the General Staff Headquarters Building features the work of Nelly Petrova, Principal Artist at the Imperial Porcelain Factory. The display comprises over 200 ceramics made during the last decade, as well as drawings and graphic design.

Traditional costumes have always inspired Nelly Petrova to new creative experiments. The richness of colours, the variety of ornaments on old clothing, hand-woven fabrics and embroidery by hand provide the artist with infinite material in her work on a gallery of lyrical female images full of spirituality. This is evident from the painting on the plates entitled “Feast Day”, “At the Fair”, Daughters-Mothers. Valentina Alexandrovna” and “Daughters-Mothers. Maria Nikolayevna”. Nelly Petrova’s virtuoso female portraits are vivid and expressive.


Nature is another source of inspiration for Nelly Petrova. A sense of peace and quiet can be felt in the gentle rhythm and colours of her landscapes. The artist contrasts this peace with the power and motion of the animal world.

In her painting the artist uses moulds for imperial vases in the Hermitage collection which have been restored at the factory. The vases include “Lions’ Midday Rest”, “Leopards”, “Noble Nest. Capercaillies” and “Noble Nest. Curlews”.

“China Tale”


The Stable Block Exhibition Hall in the Kirov Central Park of Culture and Relaxation (4 Elagin Island) is staging a “China Tale” based on pieces from the “Ceramics” collection of the Elagin Island Palace-Museum. It consists of small sculpted figurines and compositions, decorative dishes and plates, vases with ornamental or thematic painting on the subjects of familiar fairytales. They include both unique and mass-produced items. The display features works by the “classic exponent of the fairytale genre” Asta Brzhezitskaya whose career was linked with the Dulyovsky Porcelain Factory, original small sculptures by Valery and Alexander Traugot, examples of mass-produced china from the “Progress” Workers’ Cooperative in the Leningrad Region, witty porcelain figurines by the well-known St. Petersburg sculptor Lev Smorgon and by the sculptors and artists of the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory Sofya Velikhovaya and Alexander Kiselev and elegant decorative vases by Alexey Vorobievsky. Most of the exhibits come from the private collection which the well-known St. Petersburg collector Boris Ivanov donated to the palacemuseum in 1989.


Interactive modules and creative activity areas enable visitors not only to form an impression of the appearance of fairytale characters depicted in porcelain and learn about the world’s collectors of folklore and storytellers and the genres of Russian traditional fairytales, but also to become a director of a “Shadow Theatre”, take part in the comic quest “The Ordinary Tale of an Extraordinary China Cup” and acquire the skills of research work, discovering the properties of porcelain and studying the technologies of its manufacture and the methods of decorating pieces of porcelain.

Where St.Petersburg

March 2019

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