By Maria Ovkova
This small bell shaped tea cup, manufactured in 1830s by the famous Batenin Porcelain Factory that belonged to a wealthy merchant Philip Batenin, is a perfect example of valuable antique porcelain from the Imperial Russia. The cup features one of the rarest views ever depicted on Batenin’s creations, the Smolny Cathedral on the Neva River, which is painted completely by hand.
A similar cylindrical cup with a view of the Smolny Cathedral was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in June 2007 for £2400. Another is located in the world-famous Hermitage Museum. Nowadays, Batenin’s porcelain is quite rare and highly prized among collectors.
Batenin’s porcelain became very popular due to his beautiful depictions of St. Petersburg’s famous landmarks such as the house of Peter the Great, the Smolny Cathedral, the Stock Exchange & Admiralty, Palace Square, Nevsky Prospect, the Palace at Pavlovsk, and the Peter & Paul Fortress. Other decorations included floral bouquets as well as nature and mythology scenes. All items were painted exclusively by hand.
Batenin’s factory existed from 1814 to 1838. Production began almost immediately after the Russian Empire defeated the legendary Napoleon Bonaparte. The influence of this epic event had an enormous impact on Russian art and culture. Widespread enthusiasm sparked by the victory in the Patriotic War of 1812 enveloped the entire Russia, causing significant interest in everything Russian throughout the Empire.
At the first All-Russian Manufacturing Exhibition in St. Petersburg in 1829, Batenin’s porcelain was awarded a large gold medal, surpassing even the Imperial Porcelain Factory. Unfortunately his factory operated for less than 30 years. In 1838 a fire, that broke out suddenly, destroyed almost the entire building where Batenin’s factory was located, after which the enterprise was unable to resume its production.
With only a few decades in business, where all items were meticulously decorated by hand, the factory simply did not produce a lot of porcelain during its existence. After WWI, the 1917 Revolution, WWII, collapse of the Soviet Union, and the poverty that followed in the 1990s, it’s safe to say that not that many of Batenin’s creations survived to this day. Those that have are unquestionably rare porcelain artworks from the Russian Imperial history.
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