RARE SET OF TWELVE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL PORCELAIN DINNER PLATES, FROM THE RAPHAEL SERVICE, PERIODS OF
RARE SET OF TWELVE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL PORCELAIN DINNER PLATES, FROM THE RAPHAEL SERVICE, PERIODS OF ALEXANDER III AND NICHOLAS II, 1884-1903 with central red ground hexagonal panels painted en grisaille with classical subjects, the cavettos with gilt Greek key and cream ground borders painted with winged animals, the rims with three interjections, six grey ground panels of grotesqueries and three red ground medallions with figures, all within gilt surrounds on a foliate bordered celadon green ground, the edges and basal rims all gilt, contained in their original brass-bound mahogany case, diameter 9.5"" ? 24.2 cm., painted crowned ciphers and dated in red and gilt Provenance: Wartski, Llandudno, North Wales, 1947 Private collection, Llandudno, North Wales By descent to the present owner Note: Heralded as one of the greatest achievements of the Imperial Porcelain Factory, the Raphael Service was commissioned for the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo in 1883. The design for the service was developed under the supervision of Leonard Schaufelberger, head of the Imperial Art Workshops, with Emperor Alexander III personally overseeing the process. Production took twenty years to complete and would culminate in the most expensive porcelain service ever produced by the factory. In 1904, the service for fifty persons was completed and delivered to the court of Alexander?s wife, the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna. For the design of the service, the Imperial factory translated the splendid frescoes found in the Raphael Loggia in the Hermitage. These murals were themselves reproductions. In the 1780s, Empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great) ordered the construction of an extension for the Great Hermitage. Its walls and vaults were adorned with copies of the Raphael frescoes of the Vatican loggia, painted by Cristopher Unterberger and his workshop. The rich decorations and basic configurations of the compositions of the Vatican and Saint Petersburg loggias are retained on the service, completely elegant in their simplified imagery.